More medicines for New Zealanders, thanks to Govt’s Budget boost

Health Minister Andrew Little is welcoming news that two more important medicines are set to be funded, thanks to the Government’s big boost to the country’s medicines budget.

“Since coming into Government in 2017, the Labour Government has increased Pharmac’s funding by 43 per cent, including a $71 million boost this year and another $120 million increase next year,” Andrew Little said.

“This morning, the Government medicines funding agency Pharmac announced that, subject to public consultation, it will fully fund a medicine for spinal muscular atrophy, as well as adrenaline auto-injectors for people at risk of anaphylaxis, or life-threatening allergic reactions.

“This is good news. More than 12,000 New Zealanders at risk of anaphylaxis could benefit from access to the adrenaline auto-injectors within the first year of funding, increasing to 17,000 a year within five years.

“The spinal muscular atrophy medicine nusinersen (marketed as Spinraza) will, if it goes ahead, be the first medicine to be publically funded for spinal muscular atrophy.

“It could make a substantial difference to the lives of the young people who receive it, and is in line with the recommendations of the Government-ordered review of Pharmac, which said more work should be done on funding medicines for people with rare disorders.

“In New Zealand, decisions about which medicines are publicly funded are made by medical experts through Pharmac, and not by politicians, and that’s as it should be.

“Despite dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Labour Government has managed to make good progress on increasing the number of medicines and treatments available to New Zealanders.

“I am pleased to see that so far, Pharmac has used this year’s Budget increase to fund three new treatments, has increased access to 14, and is considering proposals to fund another eight new medicines.

“And as a result of this Government’s funding increases since 2017, Pharmac has been able to make an extra 189 funding decisions, including 59 new listings and the widening of access to 130 treatments.”

Editor’s notes

  • The brand name of the adrenaline auto-injector being considered for funding can’t be released at this stage, due to commercial sensitivity during the tender process.
  • In 2020/21, 3.77 million people received Pharmac-funded medicines.

Pharmac has $1.186 billion of Government funding this year (2022/23) and $1.245 billion next year (2023/24). In 2017, when Labour came into Government, Pharmac’s funding was at $870 million