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More medicines for New Zealanders


Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Pharmac is about to introduce two more medicines, for spinal muscular atrophy life-threatening allergic reactions.

Since 2017, Pharmac has made 59 new treatments available and widened access to 130 more medicines.

The government has increased Pharmac’s funding by 43 per cent, including a $71 million boost this year and another $120 million increase next year.

Subject to public consultation, Pharmac 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.

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 will, if it goes ahead, be the first medicine to be publicly 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 pandemic, the government has managed to make good progress on increasing the number of medicines and treatments available to New Zealanders.

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 taxpayer funding for 2022-23 and $1.245 billion next year). In 2017, when Labour became government, Pharmac’s funding was at $870 million.