“Health Minister Andrew Little owes an apology to Patient Voice Aotearoa for accusing them of using “extremist rhetoric,” says ACT Health Spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Patient Voice Aotearoa is a group that is advocating for medicines for people who are sick or dying. For a Minister to accuse them of extremism is insensitive and wrong.

“Advocating for medicines for children is not extremist. It is not extremist to want to keep children alive and ask for more and better medicines.

“It’s no wonder they are disappointed by the Budget. They have every right to voice their concerns without a Minister calling them extremist.

“A petition from Patient Voice Aotearoa gathered 100,000 signatures. Last week they marched to parliament, lay in the rain and called for more funding for medicines.

“The Health Minister should apologise to people who are advocating for children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and other rare diseases whose medicines are not funded in New Zealand.

“It is not extremist to call for a New Zealand where children with rare diseases could have a future.

“A more mature Government would have included funding in the PHARMAC review so that we have a policy to compare options of non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as operating with buying the drugs.

“The Government is spending more than twice as much on restructuring the health care system as it is on PHARMAC.

“ACT continues to call for PHARMAC funding to be reviewed. It’s what’s fair and right for people who are suffering from chronic pain and diseases.”