Pharmac deal improves access to medicines

Waikato patients will have greater access to drugs under a new arrangement in which Pharmac will take over funding of hospital medicines.

The move is also likely to save the Waikato District Health Board a lot of money, something chief executive Craig Climo said was a win-win for the board and the public.

"I'm absolutely convinced that Pharmac provides the best deal for the public of New Zealand," he said.

The move was announced by Pharmac this week but had been planned since about 2010, Mr Climo said.

It means that Pharmac, which currently funds all non-hospital prescriptions, will take over managing hospital medicines from July 2013 and hospital medical devices from 2015.

Mr Climo said that would have a two-fold spinoff, including consistent access to drugs across all health boards and massive savings.

"The way things are at present is individual DHBs can provide different drugs. We're a small country and I think most New Zealanders would expect that as they go across district health board boundaries to another there should be some consistency in what is available to them.

"You wouldn't expect to go from one place to another and expect that one cancer drug available in one place, is not available in another," he said.

While Waikato patients already had access to a vast array of drugs, Mr Climo said this move would mean even more would be available to them.

It was not yet known exactly how much money the change would save the Waikato DHB but "undoubtedly there will be savings".

"There's no doubt about it . . . But they haven't been quantified by Pharmac and until such time that they are quantified, we won't be putting [those savings] into our financial plan," Mr Climo said.

Pharmac currently funds about 2500 different drugs in the community and Mr Climo said their reputation for making savings on those over the past 20 years was "legendary".

Waikato Times