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Launch An Independent Inquiry Into Pharmac Now Before More New Zealanders Die


16 October 2018: Malcolm Mulholland, Chair of Patient Voice Aotearoa, along with women with advanced breast cancer, submitted a lengthy document that outlined the reasons why the Health Select Committee should hold an inquiry into Pharmac. Women with advanced breast cancer, also submitted two petitions calling for Pharmac to fund Ibrance and Kadcyla.

10 April 2019: A vote was taken by the Health Select Committee to hold an inquiry into Pharmac which was defeated by the Labour Members of Parliament, along with a member of New Zealand First. Chair of the Health Select Committee, Louisa Wall, stated that an inquiry into Pharmac was already “in the works.”

1 May 2019: A petition is presented to Parliament, asking that the drug Spinraza be funded for children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

7 May 2019: A record eight petitions are presented to Parliament, asking that 26 drugs be funded across a range of cancers, rare disorders and chronic illnesses.

30 September 2020: During the Leaders Debate on Newshub, both Judith Collins and Jacinda Ardern commit to an independent inquiry into Pharmac. The Prime Minister expressed confidence in Pharmac’s model.

30 November 2020: The Coroner begins an inquiry into the deaths of six epilepsy patients whose medications were switched by Pharmac, to see if the switch was a contributing factor in their deaths.

2 December 2019: The Prime Minister is questioned in the House of Representatives by ACT Leader David Seymour about the campaign promises made to hold an independent inquiry into Pharmac. The Prime Minister stated that she was in discussions with officials about an inquiry and continued to express confidence in the Pharmac model. A petition is also presented to Parliament, asking for two drugs to be funded for Crohn’s and Colitis patients.

3 December 2019: A motion to hold a review of Pharmac by the Health Select Committee was again voted down by the Labour Members of Parliament.

To date, all petitions asking for medicines to be funded across a range of cancers, rare disorders and chronic illnesses, alongside a petition to double Pharmac’s budget and reform the agency, totals over 300,000 signatures.

Statement from the Chair of Patient Voice Aotearoa, Malcolm Mulholland

“Open your ears Prime Minister. We have a medicine crisis in New Zealand” states Chair of Patient Voice Aotearoa, Malcolm Mulholland. 

“Over the past two years, patients, advocates and organisations have banded together with a record number of petitions that tally over 300,000 signatures, asking that New Zealanders gain access to medications that are funded in the majority of the developed world. It is clear that the Pharmac model is broken and desperately needs a massive budget increase, so it can deliver the best health outcomes for New Zealanders.

It is also obvious that the Prime Minister must stop spinning and actually care about the health of New Zealanders. The Prime Minister is happy to hide behind Pharmac needing to be independent of the politicians when it comes to which medicines should be funded whenever any questions arise as to who is responsible for Pharmac. The Prime Minister is also at pains to say that Pharmac is receiving a record budget, but neglects to tell the public that the most recent funding increases have been approved to ensure medicines reach New Zealand patients in the age of Covid-19, not for the purchase of modern medicines that so many New Zealanders are crying out for. To make matters worse, supply issues that now see the Government pumping millions of dollars into Pharmac, have been compounded by Pharmac’s sole supply agreement model for the country’s critical medicines. Other countries, such as Australia, do not put all their medicines in one supplier and are not experiencing medicine supply issues on the scale that is now being experienced by New Zealanders.

Prime Minister, listen to the people Pharmac is supposed to serve – the sick. Appoint an independent inquiry panel to look into Pharmac now; not to assure the public that the Pharmac model works, but to look at ways the Pharmac model can be improved for the health of all New Zealanders."

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