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Pharmac’s secrecy warps debate on NZ’s drug funding

Summarised by Centrist 

In his recent article, writer Graham Adams highlights the mounting pressure on Pharmac, New Zealand’s drug procurement agency, to fund vital medications. This situation is made worse by a lack of transparency in drug pricing. Pharmac’s reluctance to reveal the rebates it receives on funded drugs, citing commercial sensitivity, distorts perceptions of drug costs. Journalists report patient list prices but can’t access the discounted prices negotiated by Pharmac.

Dr Malcolm Mulholland, Chair of Patient Voice Aotearoa, argues that this secrecy has been used to portray drug costs as exorbitant, with Pharmac representatives sometimes providing misleading price information.

While the average rebate for more nearly 600 drugs purchased by Pharmac in the 2020/21 year was almost 50%, Mulholland suggests that rebates can be significantly higher for newer drugs, as pharmaceutical companies seek market access.

The need for greater transparency in Pharmac’s operations has been recognized by political parties, including both ACT and Te Pāti Māori, with calls to reform the agency and provide more openness in its funding choices. 

Read more over at The Platform 

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