Pharmac has announced plans for a $5 million annual fund
for certain high-cost medicines, after pressure from advocates
who say drugs for rare diseases stand little chance under
current funding rules.
The drug-buying agency has asked for community feedback to
''iron out'' details, but hopes to ask drug companies for
proposals by the end of this year.
In a press release yesterday, chief executive Steffan Crausaz
said Pharmac listened to feedback at community forums around
New Zealand in the agency's funding formula review.
''We've listened closely to these views, and thought about
them carefully. Our thinking leads us to the view that the
core problem is a lack of competition.
''We know competition leads to lower prices, and that's an
area where Pharmac has an established track record.
''We think that by promoting competition among suppliers,
prices will reduce and as a result, patients will get funded
access to them.''
The fund would use Pharmac's savings in other areas, and
would not affect spending on other conditions.
New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders executive
director John Forman, of Wellington, said when contacted he
was ''not going to pop the Champagne corks just yet''.
''It's been a major problem for quite a few years now ... it
would be great to think this is the beginning of a serious
At present, almost all rare disease drugs were not funded, as
they did not meet criteria for cost-effectiveness.
He was pleased Pharmac accepted in principle the need for
such a fund, but would like more than $5million allocated.
Yesterday's announcement was a surprise to Mr Forman, who
said it seemed the ''message has finally got through''.
However, there was no guarantee it would go ahead, he said.
The ''cynical view'' was that the move would neutralise a
difficult issue in election year.