Labour accuses Govt of underfunding Pharmac
Labour is accusing the Government of under-funding Pharmac and denying New Zealand's ground-breaking cancer drugs, but Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says that's wrong.
Labour leader Andrew Little says that for the past four years the drug-buying agency's budget has risen by just two percent, while population pressure and inflation mean it should have had a 10 percent increase over that time.
"That's why Kiwis dying from melanoma are unable to access ground-breaking new drugs like Keytruda which is fully funded in Australia and Great Britain," he said today.
Dr Coleman says the government has increased Pharmac's budget by $150 million over the seven years it has been in office.
"That's well above the rate of inflation and well above what Labour increased it by during their term in office," he told reporters.
Pharmac has given Keytruda a low priority for funding, and Prime Minister John Key indicated on Monday the government may override that.
"Potentially, yes," he said when he was asked whether the government would ensure Keytruda was funded.
Dr Coleman said today it was a budget matter, and there hadn't been any discussions about funding Keytruda ahead of next year's budget.