Pharmac looks likely to get a pick-me-up after review team reports on its state of health

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

The Beehive has drawn attention today to the help being dispensed by the kindly Ardern government and other agencies for Covid-affected communities after alert levels (and levels of social inconvenience) were raised.  But Pharmac, the state’s controversial drug-purchasing agency, is to undergo a rigorous examination before changes are prescribed.

The Nats said the review is long overdue.

The PM said the Pharmac model broadly works well and gives New Zealanders access to the medicines and products they need to live healthy lives,

“ … but we have heard people’s concerns about the model, and we believe there is scope for improving it.

“Pharmac is a model that’s critically important to the health sector, and viewed as world-leading, but let’s make it better if we can.”

Health Minister Andrew Little said concerns raised about Pharmac include access to new medicines, timeliness of decision making, and the application of criteria that inform Pharmac’s prioritisation and funding decisions.

There have been concerns about the safety of substituting medicines due to cost and availability, and access to products that are funded in other countries but not here in New Zealand.

Those announcements from the Beehive were made along with news that –

  • Rino Tirikatane, Associate Minister of Trade and Export Growth, has delivered a speech to “the ANZLF Virtual Indigenous Business Trade and Connections Event”.  We are uncertain if the “A” is for Australia, Aotearoa or Aboriginal, but we can report that the Minister expressed his pleasure at being “part of the conversation on Indigenous business, and part of an event that facilitates relationship building between Aotearoa-New Zealand and Australian Indigenous businesses”.
  • The Department of Conservation has awarded one-year postgraduate research scholarships of $15,000 (each, presumably) to ten Masters students in the natural and social sciences. DOC received 82 eligible applications for Te Papa Atawhai postgraduate scholarship programme.

The PM and Health Minister Andrew Little announced the Government is following through on an election promise to conduct an independent review into Pharmac.

The Review will focus on – 

  • How well Pharmac performs against its current objectives and whether and how its performance against these could be improved.
  • Whether Pharmac’s current objectives maximise its potential to improve health outcomes for all New Zealanders as part of the wider health system, and whether and how these objectives should be changed.

Among the factors considered will be

  • The timeliness of Pharmac’s decision making (in particular for new medicines).   
  • The transparency and accessibility of decision-making processes.   
  • Equity, including access to medicines and devices for Māori and Pacific peoples.

The independent panel will be chaired by consumer advocate Sue Chetwin.

Its members will be corporate governance and public law consultant Frank McLaughlin, experienced health economist and governance expert Heather Simpson, Pharmacist prescriber Leanne Te Karu, Otago University’s Department of Preventative and Social Medicine Associate Professor Sue Crengle and disability advocate Dr Tristram Ingham.

The review is intended to run until the end of the year with an interim report in August and a final report in December.

Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare perhaps were responding to the mounting community disquiet – if not anger – that has followed the latest raising of alert levels. They will be aware, no doubt, of mounting hardship, too.

They announced that community and social service support providers have again swung into action to help people and families.

“The Government recognises that in many instances social service, community, iwi and Whānau Ora organisations are best placed to provide vital support to the communities impacted by COVID-19,” says Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni.

“Funding allocated to these services in Budget 2020 is helping providers meet the immediate need created by COVID-19 and plan for increased demand.

“MSD are in contact with social service providers in Auckland, and the feedback they are receiving is that while providers are busy, they are well placed, and able to meet the needs of the community.”

Sepuloni acknowledged that foodbanks are experiencing increased demand.

She credited the Auckland Food Secure Network with doing great work getting food to vulnerable families and is operating in Level 3 under strict Health and Safety protocols. Emergency Food Grants are available through Work and Income for people who qualify.

Henare said Commissioning Agencies are working with at least 19 Māori and Pasifika community providers in Tāmaki Makaurau to get assistance and information to whānau. 

“They have quickly stood up mobile testing stations to support at-risk communities, and redeployed support for foodbanks, with six food hubs planned for Auckland over the next week.”

One of the agencies, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, is coordinating the distribution of 120,000 masks ; another, Pasifika Futures, is supporting the distribution of 1,000 education packs to keep young people connected and engaged over lockdown.

Families experiencing family violence were advised that support services are available and anyone feeling unsafe and in need of support should call the Police, or a local family violence support provider.

A list of providers who have been funded to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at

Latest from the Beehive

2 MARCH 2021

Support Available for Communities affected by COVID-19

Govt announces review into PHARMAC

Impressive response to DOC scholarship programme 

1 MARCH 2021

Speech to ANZLF Virtual Indigenous Business Trade and Connections Event


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.