25 May 2012

Patent savings enable $30m drug budget cut

12:51 pm on 25 May 2012

The Government says it will reduce medicines funding by $30 million in the coming year but this will not restrict public access to drugs.

At present, Pharmac's budget for spending on community and hospital cancer drugs is $770 million and that is expected to drop to about $740 million next year.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said despite the fall, more medicines will be funded because Pharmac savings are being ploughed back.

He said Pharmac has been able to save $100 million in the past year, because major drugs have come off patent.

Of the money saved, $30 million will go to District Health Boards as usual, but with the provision this time that it be used to fund general health initiatives announced in the Budget, specifically free after-hours care for under-sixes.

Of the rest, $10 million will fund new drugs and $60 million will help meet the costs of a widening of access to medicines in the past three years.