Labour will do a better job than Pharmac does. No, really

Labour have decided to politicise Pharmac, now announcing that they know better than the agency charged with saving us millions in drug costs.

What’s worse is that with their opposition to the TPPA they declared that the government was going to sell Pharmac down the river and expose Kiwis to ever expanding health costs as a result.

Instead it is them who is selling Pharmac down the river and exposing Kiwi taxpayers to increased health care costs.

Patients wanting access to groundbreaking drugs that are still being tested would get Government funding if Labour gets into power.

Opposition leader Andrew Little said “by and large” he didn’t have an issue with Pharmac, the national drug purchaser, but he was in favour of an early-access funding scheme, similar to the United Kingdom.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has ruled out providing early funding for new drugs where results appear to be promising, but there may not be sufficient data to justify full funding.

Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague criticised Little for his comments that politicians should get involved in decisions around what drugs Pharmac funds. ?

Hague said it was a “shame” that Little said Labour would fund Keytruda, a potentially life-saving treatment for melanoma sufferers.

“Political decision-making on medicines a very bad idea,” he posted on Twitter.

But Little said Pharmac was already constrained by politics.

“Politics will decide what its budget is, politics will decide what the priority areas are they have to deliver – it’s a system that’s not free of political judgement,” he said.

Labour plans to campaign on five or six principal issues but “whether or not this is one of them remains to be seen, but that doesn’t stop us making the promise that we’ll fund (Keytruda) regardless of what our primary campaign topics are”.

Little said there was a strong case for early-access funding and he would look at changing that within the Pharmac model if Labour wins the election in 2017.

Little won’t have to worry about honouring that promise, since he won’t be winning the 2017 election.

However if there is a sniff that this gains traction watch John Key get forced into it by focus groups and polling instead of letting Pharmac do their job.


– Fairfax