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Te Pāti Māori Demand Accountability From Pharmac CE For Lie About Live Saving Trikafta Drug Cost

Today Te Pāti Māori stand in solidarity with the cystic fibrosis community of Aotearoa New Zealand in calling for the government to fund the wonder drug, Trikafta.

Unfortunately, Co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi are unable to join the handover in Te Whanganui-a-Tara due to being in isolation because of Covid-19.

“People with cystic fibrosis and their whānau deserve the truth when Pharmac speak about the cost of Trikafta. Why did the CE of Pharmac, Sarah Fitt, blatantly lie about the cost of the drug to the Health Select Committee last year, saying it could cost anywhere between quarter of a billion to half a billion dollars, and made no attempt to correct the public record for the ensuring year?,” said Co-leader and Health spokesperson Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

Upon further questioning of Fitt by Ngarewa-Packer at the Health Select Committee, Pharmac’s CE admitted “I did actually make a mistake, I did quote the incorrect price for Trikafta.” According to Fitt, the higher cost paid for Trikafta would be $130 million dollars. With Pharmac’s rebate scheme, this cost could be further reduced by half to $65 million dollars.

“To say that for over a year the cost of a drug that would save hundreds of lives of people with cystic fibrosis would be half a billion dollars, and to then admit the cost could be a fraction of that, either leads me to believe that Fitt is either incompetent, or worse, misleading,” said Ngarewa-Packer.

“There needs to be accountability from the highest levels of Pharmac and we believe it’s serious enough for heads to roll. Given the high stakes at play around the funding of Trikafta, Fitt should either stand down or be severally reprimanded.

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“What’s worse is that Pharmac is pretending to be an agency that has at its heart, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, so that the best health outcomes can be achieved for Māori.

“Caring means telling the truth and advocating, as strongly as you can, to get medicines funded that will help our whānau. Not lying so that the media and public walk away believing the drug is too expensive to be funded,” said Ngarewa-Packer.

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