The recently announced Pharmac review is fatally flawed. While the Government may feel it can claim the moral high ground, listening to public concern and acting on their election promise of a “review”, they have also knowingly hamstrung the process by restricting the parameters of the review itself. “This is political intervention at its finest,” Peter Fergusson, CEO Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ (LBC).
In short – it’s a review of Pharmac’s operations. It covers three areas: timeliness, transparency, and equity of access; sure, it will identify a raft of improvements, making it operate more efficiently and nothing more.
The critical factor missing, that would make a measurable difference to New Zealanders’ lives, is a review of the budget. “Pharmac may make decisions faster and with transparency, but due to budgetary restrictions, they will continue to be constrained to making the same decisions over and over again and New Zealanders will continue to die.” Peter said.
The fact is that the gap is widening in our lag behind every other OECD country when accessing new treatments; people are paying for this lag with their lives. The Government’s response to bringing the COVID-19 vaccine to NZ as quick as it has is a clear example of what is achievable when funds are an essential part of the equation. Cancer remains this country’s most prolific killer – much more needs to be done.
“Nothing excuses the shameful loss of life when proven treatments already exist and can make incurable cancers something Kiwis live with rather than die from. We deserve better than this review!!” said Peter.
About Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand: Every day, seven Kiwis will discover they have a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) is the national charity dedicated to supporting them. The organisation aims to ease the emotional and practical burden carried by patients and invests in research to find a cure. With no direct government funding, fundraising is essential to allow LBCs life-changing work to continue. Charity # CC24498