30 April 2021
Last night Newshub revealed that Pharmac has a list of 73 medicines it would like to buy for Kiwis, but can't due to budget constraints. The total cost would be just over $400 million - requiring a 40 percent increase in Pharmac's $1 billion annual budget.
Some of these medicines have already waited for funding for more than 6 years, and the total list of medicines waiting for funding has grown from 26 in 2014 to 73 today.
The story was also picked up by today’s AM Show with funding for Trikafta also getting a mention.
It’s clear that the Government needs to provide Pharmac with a major funding boost in the May 2021 Budget to enable all of these medicines to be funded. But the news that Pharmac needs a substantial increase in its funding comes as nothing new – the budget for medicines in New Zealand has been underfunded over many years.
New Zealand lags well behind other developed countries on how much its spends on medicines and on modern medicines in particular. NZ ranks last out of 40 OECD countries for market access to modern medicines.
But a one-off catch up will not be enough - a fundamental change is needed in NZ’s approach to funding medicines.
NZ needs to view its funding of medicines not as a cost, but as an investment in the health and well-being of Kiwis and the health system. Funding of modern medicines like Trikafta not only provide life-changing benefits for patients and their families, but will also reduce costs for the health system, through reduced treatment and hospitalisation, and deferred and avoided lung transplants.
The time for this change is now – as part of the wider reform of the NZ health system recently announced by the Minister of Health.
Patient Voice Aotearoa (PVA) will be presenting its Double the Pharmac Budget petition to Parliament on 12 May. Cystic Fibrosis NZ strongly supports PVA’s petition and encourages everyone to sign now if they haven’t done so already.
Let’s hope the Government is listening and takes big, bold steps in its May Budget – to give Pharmac the funding boost it desperately needs and reset the direction for investing in medicines.
Kiwis with CF can’t wait any longer.