11 Apr 2019

Labour MP rejects claims she said Health Minister nixed Pharmac inquiry

12:23 pm on 11 April 2019

Labour MP health select committee chair Louisa Wall is rejecting claims she told the husband of a cancer sufferer the health minister had blocked an inquiry into drug-buyer Pharmac.

Labour MP Louisa Wall's marriage equality bill passed into law in 2013

Labour MP Louisa Wall Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The Labour-controlled health select committee voted yesterday against holding a review of the agency, leaving a group of breast cancer patients bitterly disappointed.

Parliament's health select committee has also been considering a petition from patients seeking funding for new drugs for advanced breast cancer.

Malcolm Mulholland told Morning Report he had two conversations with Ms Wall, one where she said an inquiry would be launched and that it was a "no-brainer", and another where she said it was being "blocked by Dr Clark and by people higher than him" - something Ms Wall categorically denies saying.

Asked if he was sure about what he was told he said he was "absolutely positive" that she had said that.

"I was there, I heard it first hand."

But Mr Mulholland said upon reflection, it was not constructive to get into a he-said-she-said debate.

"I know what was said, I know Louisa will say she didn't. I think what's important now is [to] hopefully work together in order to get the outcome that I think we both want."

Ms Wall was asked on Morning Report if she told Mr Mulholland the inquiry has been blocked by the minister and she repeatedly said no.

"How many times do you want me to answer that question.

"Our committee have made a decision and I want to focus on what we will do next.

She said to ask Mr Mulholland about why he would say what he said.

"Ask Malcolm, ask him why he's disclosed other conversations he's had with other people about the decision we made yesterday.

"I don't know, that's Malcolm and that's what Malcolm wants to do, I'd rather focus on the fact that we've been incredibly responsive to a petition, we've heard from [patients with a petition wanting funding for new breast screening drugs], because actually the voice that is most important in this are the women who don't have access to these two drugs because they're incredibly expensive.

"We haven't finished our investigation in terms of the petition, we will write a report and make some recommendations."

She said the committee voted against Mr Mulholland's inquiry because there was already one in the works.