70 pct of Kiwis want Government to give Pharmac more money - survey

New Zealanders have sent a clear message to the Government to fund medicines better or their political fortunes are at stake. 

A survey commissioned by Patient Voice Aotearoa and released exclusively to Newshub reveals seven in 10 Kiwis want the Government to pump more money into drug buying agency Pharmac.

The Government increased Pharmac funding by $200 million in this year's Budget, but that's stretched over four years and Pharmac's wish list would cost $417 million a year.

When survey takers were asked whether the Government should fund Pharmac more or less than planned, just 6 percent said less should be spent and 16 percent said fund it about the same. But 32 percent want a little bit more and 38 percent would like to see cash be poured in - a whopping 70 percent who want the Government to give Pharmac more money.

Malcolm Mulholland, the chairperson of Patient Voice Aotearoa, says this is a "real slap on the face" to the Government.

"The public are now wide awake to the issue of how much Pharmac is being short-funded by," he says.

Additionally, the survey found four in 10 Kiwis are not confident they'd get access to the best medicine if they needed it.

New Zealander Fiona Matthew couldn't get the cancer drugs she needed because they weren't funded by the Government, and she had to cash in her life insurance for four years to pay for it. She was diagnosed with melanoma and tried several treatments before doctors recommended Tafinlar and Mekinist.

"I didn't know where my health was going, I didn't know where my treatment was going, and then suddenly I had to find funding for large amounts of money for my medicine," she says.

"Something as important as this I never believed that this would be unfunded."

Patient Voice Aotearoa's survey also found 50 percent of Kiwis thought access to other modern medicines was as important as the COVID-19 vaccine. A further 40 percent thought other medicines were more important.

Treatments and vaccines for COVID are funded outside of Pharmac's normal budget with special funding.

Minister of Health Andrew Little isn't interested in topping up Pharmac's other medicine fund at the moment.

"Nothing is being contemplated at this point," he says. "I don't have anything that requires or suggests that I should consider it at this point."

But Mulholland says the public is giving the Government a "clear mandate" to act now.

Although there was something in the survey that suggests Little should consider it; respondents were asked whether this issue would influence their vote and 71 percent said that it would.

The clear message to the Government - fund drugs properly or your political future is at stake.