Anger, f-bomb thrown around as advocates react to Pharmac's Budget 2021 boost

The Government has poured some extra cash into the health system but those fighting for extra funding for our drug buying agency are gutted. 

Though Pharmac was given a funding boost, the $200 million more it gets over the next four years won't even touch the sides of the drugs that need to be funded. 

Stella Beswick has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and needs a drug called Spinraza. Her family was all set to move to Australia when the border slammed shut last year because Pharmac doesn't fund the drug she needs. 

"Our daughter needs Spinraza to keep living, essentially," her mum Emily told Newshub. 

They were hoping for a big boost to Pharmac's billion-dollar budget but the Government just went with what they promised in the election - $200 million. 

"We're utterly, utterly devastated," Emily says. "We just realise there is no hope in New Zealand at all if you have a rare disease."

She's not the only one - 100,000 people signed Malcolm Mulholland's petition to double Pharmac's budget. 

Mulholland had a blunt response for the Finance Minister.

"F*** you, Grant Robertson."

Robertson acknowledged how hard it must be for those needing life-saving drugs.

"Look, every person who knows somebody who needs a drug, particularly if it's for a rare disease, it's a terrible thing to be going through," Robertson said. 

The $200 million is stretched over four years. Pharmac's own calculations show they need more than $400 million more per year to fund what's already on their waitlist.

"If you are waiting on a medicine to be funded in New Zealand, you have to leave the country," says Mulholland. "That's what it means."

Robertson argues the $200 million will make a difference. 

The Government allocated more than double that $200 million to pay for its major health system overhaul, and another half-a-billion to develop a national platform for patient records. 

Ambulances get an extra $100 million, bowel screening gets just $13 million and District Health Boards (DHBs) get a $675 million a year top-up to keep the hospitals running.

"I think that's not going to make very much difference," surgeon Phil Bagshaw told Newshub. "We're way behind - a few billion behind."

The big surprise in the health budget was a doubling of funding for cochlear implants, helping Kiwis to hear. 

"Those people that receive the implant, they say it's life-changing and it really is, so that's fantastic," says Neil Heslop from the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme. 

That will be nice for the Government to hear after its medicines boost fell flat on its face.