Don’t import NZ medicines system to Australia

Speaking at a Medicines New Zealand conference in Auckland today, Medicines Australia Chief Executive, Dr Brendan Shaw, said that Australia should avoid adopting the New Zealand model of medicines funding.

“While New Zealand has exported many good things to Australia, its system of funding medicines should not be one of them,” Dr Shaw said.

“One of our great concerns in Australia is that this reverence by a handful of academics for the New Zealand model has been entirely myopic, focussing only on cost and not on the full package of what the PHARMAC model brings.

“Looking only at the costs without considering the whole system is poor policy development.”

Dr Shaw highlighted some characteristics of the New Zealand model that had escaped attention in the Australian medicines policy debate, including:

  • New Zealand is consistently one of the worst performing countries in the OECD in international comparisons of consumer access to new medicines
    • Including the lowest reimbursement coverage for cancer medicines in developed countries
  • The lack of choice and availability of new therapies for New Zealand consumers and doctors, with around 77 medicines subsidised in Australia that are not subsidised in New Zealand
  • Even with the delays of new medicines in Australia, it takes two years longer to get a medicine reimbursed in New Zealand than it does in Australia
  • New Zealand doctors have at various times complained that their ability to treat patients is compromised by government officials over-committed to cost-containment, and
  • The PHARMAC model is less transparent than Australia, with New Zealand clinicians and consumers complaining about being left in the dark about how, why and when a medicine may or may not be reimbursed by the government.

“At a time when we are dealing with an ageing population, Australia needs a system that provides consumers and doctors with more choice, more treatment options and more new medicines, not less.”

The full text of Dr Shaw’s speech can be found here (please follow link)


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