Letter: Keep drug sellers well out of it

Last updated 12:00 11/07/2012

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OPINION: Kevin Sheehy, representing New Zealand pharmaceutical companies, claims Pharmac's tightly controlled list of subsidised medicines prevents general use of new, beneficial but unlisted medicines (Opinion, July 5). He implies that, if patients had to pay more for their prescription items (a dubious move in itself), more medicines could be subsidised.

The problem with that is that it tackles only his industry's interests: the provision of as many medicines as possible for profit.

Though not disputing that greater medicine choice and subsidised availability have advantages for prescribers and patients, there might be better ways to spend any spare funds within the capped health budget that are more likely to enable us "to live productive and fulfilling lives', as Sheehy describes.

He wills us to avoid compromising patients' health outcomes. His industry's submissions should be considered. But I know I'd prefer medical professionals engaged by the Health Ministry, together with Pharmac, to make the decisions on the nation's optimal level of medicines expenditure and our best bag of subsidised medicines. I prefer this infinitely more than allowing executives from the international medicines industry to have any control over these decisions.

GAVIN SCOTT

Pinehaven

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