“The interim report released today by the PHARMAC Review Panel shows the review is a whitewash,” says ACT's Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“The way PHARMAC has engaged with the review panel is shameful. The Minister of Health, in his statement following this release, has said that PHARMAC “is the envy of the world.” We’re unsure if he even read the report.

“The Review Panel has said that it’s not in a position to make a meaningful analysis of PHARMAC’s performance, saying it “zealously guards information,” and has a “fortress mentality.”

“PHARMAC has obfuscated an independent Government commissioned report. This is insulting to people who have lost loved ones due to their medicines not being funded.

“The review was first proposed by ACT during the election campaign and National and Labour only agreed after being backed into a corner during an election debate. While it was disappointing that funding was excluded from the review terms of reference, we were pleased to see the report followed through on by the Minister of Health.

“But clearly this has been a whitewash.

“Here are a few examples:

“PHARMAC zealously guards information about a host of operational and financial matters, making it difficult to measure the extent to which it is meeting its objectives. What information it has given us limits meaningful analysis. This lack of information extends to such basic facts as the cost savings on listed medicines; as noted, PHARMAC has only provided indicative ranges for rebates, not actual figures.”

“At the outset, we sought a range of data from PHARMAC, such as its investment profile, including historical investment against a range of indicators (ethnicity, geography, and specific diseases) and what the forecast investment profile might look like. PHARMAC would not supply much of this data, citing concerns about our inadvertently revealing commercially confidential information.”

“We are unable to see and measure the links between inputs, impacts, outcomes, and the long-term objective of achieving the best health outcomes possible from its budget.”

“Without more information, we cannot assess the extent to which PHARMAC actively scans for emerging trends that might influence investment decisions. We do know, however, that board minutes available on PHARMAC’s website reveal no such scanning, beyond PHARMAC’s four- yearly “pipeline report”.

“It need hardly be said that the public is in even less of a position to assess PHARMAC’s performance or understand how or why it makes the decisions it does.”

“ACT is calling on Minister of Health Andrew Little to reset the report and start again.

“We need a review into PHARMAC. It should be done properly with new terms of reference to include funding. The Minister should require PHARMAC to this time be cooperative. They should not be able to hide behind commercial sensitivity to limit an independent review of their statutory obligations.”