Pharmac keeps head down over important public concerns

Pharmac has not disclosed any activity around a controversial change of blood glucose meters in its annual report and should have, says Labour Health spokesperson, Maryan Street.

“During their appearance at today’s Financial Review at the Health Select Committee I challenged Pharmac to explain why they had made not one mention in their annual report of the massive proposed shift to new blood glucose meters used by 120,000 diabetics across the country.

“This has been of enormous concern to the diabetic community and has been a major piece of work for Pharmac. 

“The reply was that the decisions were made in this financial year, not the last one. That is not good enough. There was one paragraph on medical devices but no mention of blood glucose meters, or hip replacements – another hugely controversial issue - for that matter.

“There was one section on community consultation, but not a word about the stormy meetings held around the country on this issue. The protests around the meters – which mean massive changes for diabetics - started at the beginning of the year. Why were they not even referenced in the annual report? Did Pharmac think they didn’t happen? Or they weren’t worth reporting?

“This warrants a ‘could do better’ end of year report card. It appears Pharmac doesn’t want to talk about the issue because it has been so controversial and so heavily criticised by diabetics and specialists alike.

“Pharmac cannot escape its responsibilities to the community. Its work is all about supporting unwell New Zealanders, primarily through pharmaceutical subsidies. It is now expanding its work into medical devices.

“When that work affects many thousands of New Zealanders who are trying to manage a chronic illness, it cannot continue to do things the way they have always been done. Consultation with the public needs to be genuine and credible, and information needs to come back at least through the annual report.

“Fudging an issue is not an option.”