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International Medicines Report: New Zealand Past the Point of No Return?

A new report - A Decade of Modern Medicines: An International Comparison produced by IQVIA, the world’s largest Healthcare Data Science Company, shows New Zealand ranks last out of 20 comparable OECD countries (the OECD20) for publicly funded access to modern medicines to treat a range of diseases.

The report, commissioned by Medicines New Zealand, shows that over the last decade - a total of 441 modern medicines were made available across the 20 OECD countries in the report. In this time period, New Zealand publicly funded just 34 of these cost-effective modern medicines.

"New Zealand sits last among the 20 comparable countries and shows no sign of improving. Politicians stating that our medicines funding model is a 'world-class system' and 'world-leading' defies belief given the facts of the matter. When has New Zealand ever been so complacent about coming last at anything?” said Dr Graeme Jarvis, CEO of Medicines New Zealand. 

The report also found New Zealand was twice as slow as the OECD20 average, when it came to publicly funding modern medicines, meaning it took the country 2.2 years on average to publicly fund the few medicines it decided to obtain for its health system and patients. 

The IQVIA report also found a large number, 97 cost-effective modern medicines, that were still waiting for public funding in New Zealand, a far higher number of medicines than any other comparative OECD country.

“For those patients in need of unfunded medicines, it is a ‘survival of the richest’ situation. If you can afford to self-fund or have private health insurance, you get the medicines. However if you can't, you sell your home, or rely on the kindness of strangers through crowdfunding or compassionate access schemes from pharmaceutical companies.” 

“This is an appalling desperate situation for patients and their whānau. In many instances New Zealand is taking so long to fund cost-effective modern medicines for significant chronic illnesses, that it ends up costing the health system money as well as letting patients down" said Dr Jarvis.

The IQVIA report also does a deeper comparative analysis on a subset of the OECD20 nations which have comparable wealth rankings and similar national medicines procurement and publicly-funded health systems to New Zealand. 

“The report clearly showed New Zealand is getting close to the point of no return as far as keeping up with its OECD peer nations in obtaining cost-effective modern medicines for its patients and the healthcare system'' said Dr Jarvis. 

You can read the full report here.




Medicines New Zealand is the industry group representing 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.

Kristen Edwards, Communications Advisor, Medicines New Zealand
Ph: 027 534 6461