Govt underfunds Pharmac by $115m

John Key’s Government has underfunded Pharmac by more than $115m since 2012, and now Kiwis are missing out on life-saving drugs, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“For the past four years our drug-buying agency’s budget has risen just 2% when population pressure and inflation mean it should have had a 10% increase in funding just to tread water.

“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. Pharmac cannot do its job when it is starved of the money to do so.

“Independent agency Infometrics has proven that $1.7 billion has effectively been cut from New Zealand’s health budget over the past six years. We are seeing the effects of that in Kiwis unable to access operations and a health system creaking at the seams. Pharmac is another victim of this underfunding policy.

“John Key admitted yesterday that Pharmac could fund Keytruda if it had the money to do so. It is his Government which has underfunded it, giving it just $5 million of the $11 million dollars it needed in the budget despite spending $26 million on a flag referendum.

“The only person playing politics with the lives of New Zealanders is John Key. He has to do the right thing, fund Pharmac properly, and offer hope to the hundreds of Kiwis affected by melanoma,” Andrew Little says.