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New Money Leads To Leap In Availability Of Medicines To NZers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
New Money Leads To Leap In Availability Of Medicines To NZers

A $40 million lift in pharmaceutical spending has led to a significant rise in the number of medicines available to New Zealanders, and the number of people receiving them.

PHARMAC's 2009/10 Annual Report, released today, shows that PHARMAC funded 20 new medicines and widened access to a further 25 in the year to 30 June 2010, benefiting around 150,000 patients annually. The 45 new investments in medicines in the same period is the highest number of new investments PHARMAC has made in a financial year for over a decade.

"The 20 new medicines we funded in the past year is the highest number of new medicines added to the Pharmaceutical Schedule since 1999," says PHARMAC's Acting Chief Executive Steffan Crausaz.

"It's clear that without the increase in funding, we would not have been able to grow the funded medicines list by as much as we have."

"These are the medicines that in PHARMAC's view provided the greatest health gain from the many spending choices we had available to us. It was important to prioritise our spending to ensure we met our objective of getting the best health outcomes from the available budget, because it is never possible to fund everything. We are confident that our decisions in the past year enabled us to meet that objective."

Among PHARMAC's key decisions in the year were:

Bosentan, Iloprost, Sildenafil - treatments for the respiratory condition pulmonary arterial hypertension Bupropion - a newly funded treatment for people wanting to stop smoking Dasatinib - new treatment for people living with chronic myeloid leukaemia Raltegravir - a new antiviral treatment for people with HIV/AIDS Adalimumab - access widened to this biologic drug to treat a range of autoimmune conditions Rituximab - access widened so it can also be used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma Gemcitabine - wider access to this cancer drug so it can also be funded to treat Hodgkin's disease and T cell lymphoma.

During the year, PHARMAC also achieved savings of over $40 million on its existing spending on medicines by using its internationally-renowned contracting approaches.

In addition to making new medicines available, more people received more subsidies for existing medicines with- the number of funded prescriptions rising to 37.1 million, which benefited some 3.2 million New Zealanders.

"We achieved this increase in funded medicine availability while continuing our record of managing expenditure within budget," says Steffan Crausaz. "PHARMAC hit the budget target for the year, with spending of $693.8 million compared to our budget of $694 million. This is a great result for District Health Boards, which pay the bills for pharmaceutical funding."

Steffan Crausaz says PHARMAC has also continued work on engaging more closely with its stakeholders, including improving the availability of information about PHARMAC.

"A web-based tool has been launched which draws together information about the funding proposals we are considering" he says. "The Application Tracker, which we launched yesterday, will give people easy access to information on our assessment of pharmaceutical funding applications."

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