The Labour-led Government is attempting to hide its shameful underfunding of medicines by peddling the myth that a transfer of purchasing responsibility constitutes a funding increase, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The Ministers of Health and Finance have both crowed about the increase in the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget of $114.2 million last year, inferring that this was extra money for medicines.

“It wasn’t. Some medicines are now being procured through PHARMAC, rather than having DHBs purchase them directly.

“Not a single extra dollar was appropriated for PHARMAC funding in Budget 2018, and in Budget 2019, the paltry increase of $10 million didn’t even cover inflation.

“Calls for more funding have only gone up, and patients are waiting longer than ever for decisions to be made.

“The previous Government achieved average annual increases of $24 million, almost five times greater than this Government. And the strategy of purchasing medicines under a PHARMAC-facilitated contract commenced under the previous Government – we’re supportive of it.

“But right now, PHARMAC needs real funding increases, greater transparency and timelier decision-making, rather than mischievous attempts to show funding’s gone up.

“National will deliver for patients – our bottom line is you.”

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