New medicines funding hope from zero Budget

As the government prepares for a zero Budget later this month, Medicines NZ is hoping health sector reallocations will mitigate any serious impact to new medicines.

“We recognise the economic situation is very tight but we do think reallocations within health would lead to efficiencies in the system and some of this could support better investment in medicines,” Medicine NZ chief executive Kevin Sheehy told NBR ONLINE.

His comments come after Health Minister Tony Ryall told Medicine NZ’s annual meeting that while government had increased investment in medicines by $180 million over the three years it would not be able to  “keep pace with that”.

“The government is setting itself a strong target to be in the black by 2014-15. Once we get around $72 billion, we simply can’t increase our debt any further,” he told the Medicine NZ board.

The minister cautioned the health sector would it be immune to the “tighter fiscal environment” until surplus is reached.

Mr Sheehy says increased government investment in pharmaceuticals over the past three years has undoubtedly benefited thousands of New Zealanders, but more is needed before access to medicines is truly world class.

“Advances in modern medicine are allowing people to stay well and live productive, fulfilling lives for longer, keeping them out of the hospital system, which saves the public health system significant money and reduces in-patient services strain.”

"If government halts this investment until it reaches surplus in 2015, the delay for Medsafe approval and Pharmac funding, which is on average three and a half years, would be longer."

Finance Minister Bill English says the Budget will “target spending to ensure we invest in priority areas like health, education, science and innovation and improving incentives around work and welfare”.

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