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Medicines Policy A Major Priority Post Election

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Arthritis NZ.jpg
Arthritis NZ.jpg

24 October 2008 - Recently National released its policy to increase government funding of medication subsidies by $40million in 2009-10. The extra funding proposed would help more than half a million New Zealanders, for whom arthritis is a way of life.

Arthritis is the single biggest cause of disability in this country, yet the medicines that could help reduce the burden of the disease are not currently being made available. In particular, it is those people affected by inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis who are missing out on drugs proven to be beneficial for their conditions.

"We are fighting for access to drugs that people in other OECD countries have access to", said Sandra Kirby, Chief Executive for Arthritis New Zealand. "Currently only 12percent of our public health funding goes to medicines, compared to an 18percent average in the OECD."

National said it wanted drug approvals in other OECD countries, like the United Kingdom and Australia, to be recognised in order to speed up the registration of new drugs here.

Ms Kirby said she was interested to know where all other parties stood on subsidised medicines, and whether they saw the desperate need for rheumatologists in New Zealand.

"New Zealand's public funding for pharmaceuticals is two-thirds of Australia's. This is something we need to improve."

The post-election government needs to recognise arthritis as a serious health priority and increase the PHARMAC budget accordingly.

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