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New Zealand Environment

New Zealand has a unique environment for publicly funding medicines. Our model for medicine funding is the only one in the world that operates with a capped budget enshrined in legislation.

The simplified process for a modern medicine to be publicly available in New Zealand is as follows:

  • A medicines company submits a new medicine application to Medsafe.*
  • Medsafe checks that the medicine meets safety requirements and decides it can be used in New Zealand.
  • A medicines company submits a medicine funding application to PHARMAC.*
  • PHARMAC’s Pharmacology & Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) of doctors and specialists assess the funding application.
  • PTAC recommend to PHARMAC whether to fund the medicine and they give the medicine a priority rating.
  • PHARMAC then independently analyse the medicine against its factors for consideration.
  • PHARMAC decide either to publicly fund the medicine (“list” the medicine) or consider the medicine for possible future funding (“rank” the medicine).

If the medicine funding application is successful, on average the decision process takes 4.8 years. Otherwise, medicines recommended by PTAC sit on the waiting list which currently has over 100 medicines waiting for funding – some have been waiting more than 10 years and counting (one medicine has been waiting for 16+ years and counting).1


*Medsafe is the regulator that ensures medicines meet safety and quality standards before they can be used by New Zealand patients.

*PHARMAC is the funding agency that decides which medicines to publicly fund so most New Zealand patients can afford them.


1. Della Barca, C. (June 2020). Funding Medicines in New Zealand: Revision of the Medicines Waiting List to 30 April 2020. Subscripts Ltd. Auckland, New Zealand. Available here