Act Anti-pharmac Tirade Riddled With Error And Ignorance

  • John Delamare
Associate Minister of Health

Associate Minister of Health, Hon Tuariki Delamere, said today that ACT leader Richard Prebble's attack on PHARMAC last night was riddled with error and ignorant distortions of the facts.

"It's plain that Mr Prebble's extraordinary speech was motivated more by his desire to lift ACT's sagging fortunes in the polls through a continuation of his attacks on public servants, rather than by a genuine effort to subject public spending to sensible scrutiny," said Mr Delamere.

"Mr Prebble claims PHARMAC would be prosecuted under the Commerce Act, were it not exempt. He really should know that PHARMAC has always acted as though it were subject to the Act, something that has been acknowledged by the Courts.

"Mr Prebble reveals his ignorance of PHARMAC's role as his accusations about withdrawing registration of drugs shows he is unaware that PHARMAC has nothing to do with registering drugs - it simply decides which ones are to be subsidised.

"Remarkably, he criticises PHARMAC for accepting the lowest price for drugs. Wake up, Mr Prebble, that's a major part of its job in keeping down the nation's pharmaceutical bill.

"Mr Prebble acknowledged that in the past, many drugs were priced much higher here than in overseas markets.

"The lower prices of today and the resulting benefit to all New Zealanders is a result of the work of the small, dedicated team of public servants at PHARMAC.

"According to his speech, Mr Prebble now wants to do away with all these benefits and give the pharmaceutical companies an open invitation to raise their prices.

"Mr Prebble insinuates that because of PHARMAC there are 'inferior drugs' entering New Zealand. This is nonsense.

"All medicines have to undergo rigorous assessment before being registered by the Ministry of Health. New Zealanders enjoy the situation of having more than 3000 products subsidised - all of them registered by the Ministry and many of them modern, innovative pharmaceuticals.

"Mr Prebble says PHARMAC shouldn't carry out PR. Is he advocating that PHARMAC should stop trying to keep health sector groups and the public informed about what it's trying to do? That it should follow a policy of keeping everyone in the dark? This is simply more ACT nonsense.

"Finally, Mr Prebble alleges that neither I nor Mr Creech are able to meet medical suppliers. This is blatant nonsense. All Health Ministers are happy to meet credible, responsible organisations in the health sector whenever our schedules allow - and our record proves that. "Before Mr Prebble ventures again into areas where he knows nothing, he should consult his deputy, Ken Shirley, who has frequent discussions with PHARMAC and has always supported its work," said Mr Delamere.