Media Release

It's time to treat patients - not ask for patience

9 Dec 2015

New Zealanders are waiting for over 35 cost-effective medicines recommended by PHARMAC’s technical advisory committee. The average waiting time is now over 3 years.  

“Accessing the right medicines at the right time is crucial. The reality is that New Zealanders have been missing out on effective medicines for too long” said Dr Graeme Jarvis, Medicines New Zealand General Manager.

A recent report shows that investment in innovative medicines saved Australian taxpayers almost $7 billion in hospital costs, and saving over 140,000 years of life before the age of 75 for Australian patients.

“However, the year on year growth in New Zealand healthcare investment is up to 29 times higher than for medicines. Investment in medicines is a way of saving money elsewhere in the health system, which begs the question: why is there such a discrepancy in investment in medicines, despite them playing a significant role in the health system?”

The OECD average for pharmaceutical expenditure is 16% of the overall health budget. New Zealand is well behind international standards, investing only 9%.

“Medicines are an important part of the healthcare solution for New Zealand and there needs to be more action taken around getting increased investment. PHARMAC is clearly not funded at a suitable level, as evidenced by its request for an additional $11 million in funding this year, which was declined.”

New Zealand’s health system and its healthcare professionals need the right tools, including medicines, to maximise benefits to patients and whanau. Sadly, the recent media commentary regarding cancer medicines access from patient groups and clinicians is evidence that this is not the case.


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