21 Mar 2015

NZ poor on access to new medicine - report

3:08 pm on 21 March 2015

An Australian pharmaceutical lobby group has released a report that shows New Zealand lags behind other OECD countries in giving patients access to new medicines through its government drug-buying agency.

Prescription pills

Photo: AFP

Medicines Australia commissioned the report, which puts New Zealand last in a group of 20 countries for access to new medicines.

The report also said New Zealand comes second-to-last in terms of access to drugs where no comparative medicines are available.

The chair of Medicines Australia, Martin Cross, said the picture that paints for New Zealand is extremely negative.

"When you get sick you expect to get the latest treatment: in New Zealand, you almost certainly won't."

Dr Cross said if the country wanted change, it would have to invest more money in newer medicines.

The Government's drug-buying agency has, however, rejected the report.

The chief executive of Pharmac, Steffan Crausaz, said that from time to time drug companies put out reports such as this, but that not everything that comes along as a new medicine offers a great result for patients.

"The reality is that we need to work out what it is we can do, what's the most we can do with the resources that we have, and that's why we have such a careful look at the science and the clinical evidence around all medicines that come to us."

Mr Crausaz said Pharmac's job was to go through a considered process in order to decide which new medicines offer the best health outcomes.

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