Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Medicine Access Expanded for More New Zealanders with Funding Boost

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Medicines will see significantly enhanced availability, including vital cancer treatments, thanks to the Government’s recent allocation of an additional $604 million to Pharmac over four years, benefiting approximately 175,000 more New Zealanders in the first year alone. This substantial funding increase will enable Pharmac to broaden access to numerous medications, ensuring more patients receive the treatments they need.

Pharmac Chief Executive Sarah Fitt announced that the organization would immediately begin working on delivering these additional medicines. The first step involves reviewing the Options for Investment (OFI) list to determine which medicines should be prioritized. Following this, Pharmac will negotiate with suppliers and engage in public consultations.

Medicine Access Expanded: Coalition Government Commits to 26 Cancer Treatments and 54 New Medicines

The coalition Government has committed to providing up to 26 cancer treatments as part of an extensive package that includes up to 54 new medicines. Health Minister Dr. Shane Reti and Associate Health Minister David Seymour have emphasized that this investment will address an urgent treatment need for patients suffering from life-threatening diseases like cancer.

Dr. Reti highlighted that around 175,000 people are expected to benefit from these additional treatments within the first year. The treatments included in this package are designed to cover all the cancer types listed in the pre-election manifesto, with additional treatments for blood cancers and other tumors. The expansion also includes new medicines for various other conditions, aiming to improve overall health and life outcomes for New Zealanders.

Pharmac’s strategic approach to maximizing the budget through effective commercial deals and savings has been instrumental in this expansion. With the new funding, Pharmac can further extend its reach, providing life-changing differences for many more individuals across the country. The organization has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure readiness for the increased funding and subsequent implementation of new treatments.

The announcement underscores the Government’s commitment to expanding access to vital medicines, reflecting the priorities set out in the National and New Zealand First Coalition Agreement to increase Pharmac funding annually. The new funding will support Pharmac and Health New Zealand in delivering and administering these new treatments.


New Cancer Treatments Starting in October, Reaching 175,000 Annually Through Pharmac’s Efficient Model

Dr. Reti mentioned that some newly funded cancer treatments would be available from October/November, with more treatments phased in over the next year. He also noted that expanding the package to reach around 175,000 people per year across a range of conditions is achievable through Pharmac’s model, which ensures the best value for New Zealanders.

David Seymour emphasized the importance of public money supporting visible frontline services and healthcare for people in need. He highlighted that for many New Zealanders, funding for pharmaceuticals can mean the difference between life and death or between a life of pain and suffering and one of freedom. The Government’s priority was to find the additional $1.8 billion to address the fiscal challenges left by the previous administration, allowing them to provide a $604 million uplift to Pharmac.

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Health New Zealand will play a crucial role in ensuring that Kiwis can readily access the new and expanded medicines. The Government’s ongoing focus on delivering better outcomes for cancer patients includes better access to medicines, improved cancer management driven by faster treatment targets, and increased access to diagnostics through screening programs.

Dr. Reti reiterated the Government’s commitment to cancer care, noting several recent initiatives aimed at enhancing treatment and management. These initiatives include setting a target for 90% of patients to receive cancer management within 31 days of the decision to treat, increasing breast screening eligibility to 74-year-olds, funding PET scans for prostate cancer, expanding infusion services in Whanganui, investing in a new radiotherapy machine at Whangārei Hospital, and providing an additional $18 million annually to support patients needing to travel for treatments.

Overall, these actions demonstrate a strong governmental commitment to delivering comprehensive and effective healthcare solutions, particularly in cancer care, which continues to impact many New Zealanders and their families each year. The Government pledges to continue fulfilling this commitment, ensuring that patients receive the care and treatments they need.


Resource: Pharmac, June 24, 2024

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