The Government’s increase to Pharmac funding is a pathetic shadow of what is needed just to maintain medicine supplies and will actually limit New Zealanders’ ability to access important medication, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The $10 million increase to Pharmac in 2020-21 is less than 1 per cent of its baseline and falls well short of inflation. It pales in comparison to the previous National Government’s annual increases, which averaged to $24 million a year.

“At a time of real need it beggars belief that the Government is skimping on funding. There is going to be increased pressure for medicines as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and we need to be prepared.

“The Health Minister admits the increase isn’t a ramp-up. I would go further and say that it is a significant ramp-down in real funding.

“Dr Clark continues to portray the previous switch of $114.2 million in 2018/19 as a net increase in medicines funding when in fact it was simply a transfer of purchasing power from hospitals to Pharmac to purchase medicines already being purchased by hospitals.

“It was a bit like transferring money from your cheque account to your savings, at the end of the day you’re not any better off.

“Today’s announcement means it will be tougher for patients to get the drugs they need and they will be the ones missing out. We have already seen a spending commitment on Keytruda delayed due to fiscal constraints and this announcement makes similar decisions more likely.

“Instead of trying to mislead the public and pretend they’re addressing the issue with spin, the Government needs to front up and ensure our hospitals and Pharmac have the support needed to get the job done.”

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