23 Jul 2010

Health boards welcome Pharmac move

9:59 am on 23 July 2010

District health boards say allowing the drug-buying agency, Pharmac, to manage hospital and community medicines will ensure fair treatment for everyone, no matter where they live.

DHBs say patients in some regions miss out on some medicines available elsewhere because of a range of factors, including whether their board can afford the drug.

The DHBs' spokesperson on Pharmac, Murray Georgel, who's also the chief executive of the MidCentral board, says he's confident Pharmac will get whatever it can for district health boards.

The Medical Association supports the centralisation of drug purchasing, so long as cheap, generic devices are not bought.

However, Radio New Zealand's health correspondent understands doctors are divided over the merits of having Pharmac managing all medicines.

The Government says Pharmac's extended role will provide national consistency and value for money, and the agency will eventually manage all buying of medical devices as well.

The organisation representing the manufacturers and suppliers of medical devices says having Pharmac managing the items and equipment would damage an otherwise vibrant industry.

Medical Technology Association of New Zealand chief executive Faye Sumner says innovative medical technology cannot be replaced with a generic, because you end up with old technology.