Govt’s medicines boost paying off for New Zealanders

Pharmac’s plan to fund the cystic fibrosis medicine Trikafta is another example of the Government’s boost to the medicines budget helping New Zealanders, says Health Minister Andrew Little.

“Pharmac, not politicians, makes the decisions on what treatments to fund, but politicians decide what funding to provide to Pharmac, and health is always a priority for Labour governments,” Andrew Little said.

“Since 2017, we’ve increased the medicines budget by 43 per cent, letting Pharmac make more than 200 medicines available for thousands of people.

“Trikafta is the latest of those medicines. It has the potential to not only greatly improve quality of life for people with cystic fibrosis, but also extend their lives by up to 27 years.

“This is fantastic news for them and for their families, and comes on top of other recent announcements, like a plan to fund the spinal muscular atrophy medication Spinraza and a call for proposals for late-stage lung cancer medicines.

“It shows what a difference the Government’s budget boost is making. When we came into Government, the medicines budget – like other parts of the health system – had been starved of investment, despite record population growth.

“We’re fixing that. In 2020, we promised we’d increase Pharmac’s budget by $200 million over four years. We’ve kept that promise, and on top of that put in $71 million more this year, with another $120 million boost is in the pipeline for next year.

“The medicines budget is now 43 per cent bigger, under the Labour Government, than it was when we were elected in 2017. This means better access to medicines and treatments for New Zealanders, helping people lead healthier lives.

Editor’s notes:

  • Today’s announcement by Pharmac is the next step in the process to make Trikafta available for New Zealanders with cystic fibrosis.
  • Pharmac has reached a provisional agreement with medicine supplier Vertex to fund Trikafta for people with cystric fribrosis who are aged six and over, and who meet eligibility criteria.
  • Funding of Trikafta is proposed to start from 1 April next year.
  • Pharmac says the evidence shows treatment with Trikafta significantly improves lung function and other symptoms of cystic fibrosis.
  • Trikafta, a tablet taken twice a day, is a combination of elexacaftor, tezacaftor and ivacaftor.
  • The Government’s funding boost has allowed Pharmac to make an extra 201 funding decisions since 2017/18, including 68 new listings and the widening of access to 133 treatments, with more to come.
  • The package of treatments Pharmac is now consulting over has been possible because of an additional facility the Government has made available for future years, to ensure certainty of funding.