10 May 2020

Budget 2020: Govt to boost pharmaceutical funding by $160m

7:04 pm on 10 May 2020

The government is going to give pharmaceutical funding a $160 million boost over the next four years.


Photo: 123rf

Health Minister David Clark made the announcement ahead of this year's Budget on Thursday.

The Combined Pharmaceutical Budget is managed by Pharmac and covers DHB purchasing of medicines, vaccines, medical devices and other treatments.

Health Minister David Clark

Health Minister David Clark Photo: RNZ/Dom Thomas

An extra $10 million will be allocated in 2020/21, and the remaining $150 million will be spent over the following three years.

Clark said this year's budget will ensure New Zealanders continue to get the medicines they need, despite global pressure on supply chains.

"Of course these are not normal times, Budget 2020 will have a significant focus on economic recovery and rebuilding to support jobs.

"But at the same time it is vital that we prioritise additional investment in critical services like Pharmac," he said.

He said the extra money will secure medicine supply, while at the same time allowing scope for Pharmac to continue to work on expanding the range of funded treatments where possible.

"Since Budget 2019, 13 new medicines have been approved by Pharmac to become publicly funded, including six new cancer treatments. In fact, in the last two years, more than 200,000 New Zealanders have benefitted from 65 additional or widened access subsidised medicines.

"Budget 2020 locks in those gains," he said.

Planned spending is insulting - National

The National Party is labelling the announcement as insulting and misleading.

National's health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said the $10m increase to Pharmac in the first year is less than 1 percent of its baseline funding and falls well short of inflation.

He said today's announcement means it will be tougher for patients to get the drugs they need.

The Breast Cancer Foundation said Pharmac needed to up its game in securing cancer drugs after the funding boost.

Chief executive Evangelia Henderson said Pharmac planned to take the same approach to sourcing drugs as it had over the past three decades.

But that was not good enough, Henderson said, as patients were still waiting for the plan to source new cancer drugs.

She said while 21 people have died from Covid-19 in New Zealand, more than 600 women will die from breast cancer this year.

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