25th Anniversary for PHARMAC

By Pharmac | Posted: Wednesday July 11, 2018

This July PHARMAC is marking 25 years and they’re taking the time to reflect on their achievements, their journey so far and the path into the future, writes PHARMAC Medical Director, John Wyeth.

PHARMAC was born out of the health reforms of the early 1990s that had sought to contain burgeoning health costs, and the double digit annual growth in spending on pharmaceuticals.

No one had attempted what the early pioneers of PHARMAC set out to do. With New Zealand being such a small part of the global pharmaceutical market, we had no right to be pushing back on some of the biggest corporations in the world, demanding a better deal for New Zealand.

The early days were sometimes stormy, but PHARMAC has weathered the storm through hard work and being clear and focused on what we’re here to achieve.

That early success has meant that PHARMAC’s role has continued to expand over the years. Beginning with medicines used in the community, its management now includes hospital medicines, cancer treatments, vaccines, and most recently hospital medical devices.

Over the years, PHARMAC has saved the taxpayer over $6 billion, and in the 10 years to 2018 alone, PHARMAC made funding decisions that benefited over one million New Zealanders, including subsidising 169 new medicines and widening access to another 245.

The future looks good for us but it’s not without its challenges. Advances in technology, testing and continued pressures on ensuring evidence is robust, will mean that our role is as important as ever. The core principles that have brought us here will continue to be important; keeping New Zealanders at the heart of our thinking, using the best evidence to support our decisions, and making good choices so that New Zealanders can continue to have funded, innovative medicines and medical devices to improve their health.

Hepatitis c update

More than 3000 people have now been treated nationally with the hepatitis C medicines Harvoni and Viekira Pak. In 2017, PHARMAC spent over $98.5 million on Viekira Pak making it the number one medicine by spend.

PHARMAC continues to work hard to increase the uptake of the hepatitis C treatment. Our focus recently has been on helping primary care to identify and recall patients in their practice so they can be treated. Clinicians in secondary care have been supporting their primary care colleagues through this recall process, which has been appreciated.

In June 2018, PHARMAC held a well received Seminar regarding common gastroenterology issues in primary care. Dr Kristin Kenrick and Sarah Elliot joined myself covering presentation, diagnosis and management of common gastrointestinal issues in primary care. Conditions included Coeliac disease, irritable bowel and dietary management, and inflammatory bowel disease. This will be available on the PHARMAC website shortly.

PHARMAC’s work has real impacts on everyday New Zealanders and it’s due to the work of clinicians and health professionals on the frontline that we’re able to implement those decisions successfully.

Thank you for your support over the last 25 years. We look forward to continuing to work closely with health professionals in the future to help New Zealanders live longer and healthier lives.