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Funding boost and constructive collaboration will accelerate medicines access

Today’s announcement of $600 million over four years from the Government is a positive first step to addressing the long-term medicines funding shortfall, and Pharmac’s extensive prioritised waiting list for standard of care medicines. This will now see a range of medicines on the list and potentially other modern medicines being made available to the public health system and patients. 

“Medicines New Zealand and its members have committed today to work constructively with the Government and its officials to deliver the medicines to be funded by this uplift in investment to patients in a timely manner. A number of these cancer medicines are already funded for other cancer types at a set price. Pharmac will also already have an indicative price for those medicines not yet funded which are on the prioritised waiting list. Companies and Pharmac should be able to speedily reach an agreement to bring these medicines to patients.” Says Dr Graeme Jarvis, CEO of Medicines New Zealand.

“The medicines on Pharmac’s prioritised waiting list have been waiting for funding for six years on average. This means that both Pharmac and the industry are motivated to get the medicines to patients and the health system in a timely manner based on the value that those medicines deliver and there will be no ‘gaming of the system’ by the companies, as intimated by some commentators.”

While there is still some uncertainty as to the exact nature and timing of the Pharmac processes from here, the industry sees the increased investment as clear evidence that the Government sees value in funding more modern medicines. Pharmac itself has stated it needs nearly $450 million per year to clear its prioritised medicines waiting list of over 90 medicines. However, it is not clear how much additional investment will be needed to clear the significantly larger group of medicines that are still working through Pharmac’s internal processes. 

“While the funding uplift is good news, a longer-term investment path for medicines is also required so that New Zealand’s investment levels of approximately 0.4% of GDP can begin to move closer to the OECD average of 1.4% of GDP. Peer OECD nations such as Australia, the UK and even Hungary already invest at this level. Taking this approach means that as new medicines emerge the health needs of New Zealand patients will be met in a similar manner to those of patients in peer OECD countries.” says Dr Graeme Jarvis.

The general public, health experts, and now the Government all agree that medicines are an important tool to help deliver a fully functioning public health system. The new funding will see New Zealand patients start to get standard of care medicines already publicly available in peer OECD nations, which is a good starting point. 




Medicines New Zealand is the industry group representing innovative biopharmaceutical companies operating in New Zealand. We advocate for the benefits of modern medicines and vaccines as part of a high-quality public health system.

Grace Abbott, Digital Communications Advisor, Medicines New Zealand.
Ph: 027 534 6461