Drug Companies Want Health Services Slashed

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English said today drug companies wanted to see $70 million of health services slashed so that extra money could be spent on drugs.

"The drug companies themselves think we should be spending $820 million this year on drugs instead of the $747 million budgeted. That would mean cutting at least $70 million out of hospital budgets, of doctors visits for under-sixes, of maternity services. These are public health services for children, for older people, and for all the New Zealanders who depend on our public service.

"As Health Minister I simply cannot allow that to happen. Already health is under huge pressure and I have publicly stated my concerns over non-urgent surgery in particular as an area where we should be spending more, not less.

"The drug companies are prepared to spend millions of dollars trying to frighten sick and vulnerable people. I would be much more willing to listen to them if they offered to spend that money on health services, not on an emotive campaign designed to bully the Government into spending more on drugs.

"There are always more health services that we would like than dollars to pay for them. I am not prepared to see scarce health dollars leaving the country as excessive drug company profits," said Mr English.