It is great to see the Pharmac Review report finally released today, three months after the Minister received it.
We agree with many of the panel’s findings, including that the Pharmac model has delivered significant benefits for New Zealand, but these benefits need to be shared more equitably across our communities to achieve its purpose.
The Cancer Society has been advocating for changes to Pharmac processes for a long time, so we are encouraged that some change is coming. We especially support that Pharmac will need to engage more with health consumer voices and more actively collaborate and coordinate with other parts of the health administration and the health sector.
New Zealanders want better tools to fight cancer, like more cancer drugs, but we also need doctors and nurses to deliver these treatments. Integration between Pharmac and the health workforce is essential to improving cancer outcomes in New Zealand.
The Cancer Society also welcomes an increased focus on more equitable outcomes and stronger outcomes for Māori, Pasifika and others with specific health needs. Current funding is unfair – e.g. it’s unfair that immunotherapy treatment is funded for melanoma but not funded for lung cancer.
The proposed changes to the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill in respect of Pharmac are important steps towards better access to cancer medicines in New Zealand. However, as Te Aho o Te Kahu showed in their recent report, much work needs to be done to close the medicine gap.
New Zealanders support having the same access to cancer medicines available in comparable countries. So will continue advocating for improved outcomes.