ACT will require the Ministry of Health to publish a Medicines Strategy every three years. This strategy will:

  • Provide analysis of developments in medicines across the world
  • Ensure regular performance reporting and international benchmarking of Pharmac
  • Require Medsafe to approve within one week any drug or medical device that has been approved by two foreign regulatory bodies with comparable or more robust systems compared with New Zealand
  • Regularly review pharmacist-only and prescription-only classifications and requirements to ensure the benefits outweigh the costs of limiting New Zealanders’ access to medications used to treat common ailments

“Access to medicines is a crucial part of many Kiwis’ lives. Instead of relying on the luck of the draw or politically motivated funding announcements, ACT will create a dedicated strategy for ensuring access to medicines,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“It is simply not possible to truly reform the healthcare system without considering the role medicines play in the lives of New Zealanders. Access to pharmaceuticals is life or death, or the difference between a life of pain and suffering or living freely.

“Compared to other OECD countries, New Zealand is consistently one of the worst performers when it comes to accessing new medicines. Between 2012-2021, New Zealand was at the bottom of the OECD pack in launching new medicines. Of 460 new medicines, 16 per cent were launched in New Zealand, compared with 34 per cent for Australia and an OECD average of 41 per cent. This is why people have to travel overseas for medicine, it’s why Kiwis have to give up their life savings to access a medicine that other countries already provide.

“ACT will require the Ministry of Health to develop a Medicines Strategy, updated every three years. The Medicines Strategy will entail research into domestic and international developments in health needs and the availability of treatments. It will also entail specific obligations for Pharmac and Medsafe, and the Strategy will evaluate outcomes based on those obligations.

A Medicines Strategy is needed so that New Zealanders get a fair deal. That means:

  • Ensuring New Zealanders get timely and affordable access to medicines
  • Ensuring that the government is spending taxpayers’ money more effectively than if the taxpayer could spend their own money
  • Prioritising within a fixed budget
  • Managing the regulatory environment so to remove unnecessary barriers to access.

“It will ensure that the regulatory system and funding system for pharmaceuticals is sustainable and not unreasonably holding back access. It will lead to more Kiwis being able to access the medicines they need to live a fulfilling life.

“Performance benchmarking of Pharmac would provide information that can ensure the health system is working to maximise productivity and treat as many Kiwis as possible. "For example, measuring long term benefits from pharmaceutical funding decisions can inform decision making that frees up hospital beds faster, or enables people to live independently, reduces carer burden and return to work or study sooner."

“Providing access to medicines that have already been approved by any two reputable foreign regulatory bodies (such as Australia, United States, United Kingdom) would significantly improve access to medicines that have already been subject to rigorous testing and analysis through other regulatory regimes.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher this election. New Zealand can’t afford to keep sliding away from first world status in health. A change of Government alone won’t do it, we need a Government of Real Change.”

Policy document is found here.

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