“Labour has finally been pressured into revealing the review into PHARMAC, but sadly their response shows they’re still focused on slicing up the health system based on race instead of need,” says ACT’s Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“The Government was dragged into a review of PHARMAC kicking and screaming. 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. When they did get to it, they watered the review down by excluding budgetary requirements from the terms of reference.

“They then tried to bury it for months, before finally releasing it today when they probably hoped news of the Prime Minister’s meeting with the President would distract from the damning findings.

“The review shows that PHARMAC needs significant changes to deliver for those most in need. The Government can’t shirk away from these responsibilities and need to implement the changes that will make a difference in people’s lives.

“It also confirms that PHARMAC staff, rather than clinical experts or those with patient experience are making decisions about life savings medicines. The idea that medicines could be bumped up or down priority lists based on popular opinion rather than clinical opinion is staggering and should be fixed.

“Labour’s response shows they don’t want to face up to the urgent work put forward in this review. They want to focus on ideological restructures and divvying up the health system based on race rather than addressing the core needs of New Zealanders.

“The review calls for the Government to produce an updated Medicines Strategy. It is not possible to truly reform the healthcare system without considering the role medicines play in the lives of New Zealanders and ACT has put forward an amendment to the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill to require a Medicines Strategy that would increase oversight, transparency, and a direction of travel for medicines access in our health system. The Government could address this important recommendation today with their support of my SOP.

“Patients have felt let down and disillusioned by the process around this review and sadly the Government’s response will not give them cause for much optimism.

“For many New Zealanders, funding for pharmaceuticals is life or death, or the difference between a life of pain and suffering or living freely. The Government should be focused on delivering life-changing medicines for all New Zealanders based on need.”

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