More important medicines for Kiwis

Since coming into Government, we’ve made record investments in health to ensure more people can get quality care when and where they need it – and our efforts are making a difference.

We recently welcomed the news that more important medicines are going to be publicly funded for New Zealanders, thanks to our record investments in Pharmac’s medicines budget.

This includes Pharmac’s plan to fund the cystic fibrosis medicine Trikafta, which has the potential to not only greatly improve quality of life for people with cystic fibrosis but also to extend their lives.

Pharmac also announced that it will fully fund Spinraza for people under the age of 18 with spinal muscular atrophy. Spinraza is the first medicine for spinal muscular atrophy to be funded, and has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of the young people who receive it.

We also know that Pharmac’s decision to fully fund the EpiPen brand of adrenaline auto injectors will be life changing for thousands of New Zealanders. It’s expected that there will be around 12,000 Kiwis accessing adrenaline auto-injectors in the first year, increasing to 17,000 people per year after five years.

Pharmac, the country’s national medicines-buying agency makes decisions about what medicines to fund, not politicians. But politicians do decide on what funding to provide to Pharmac, and health is always a top priority for Labour.

These recent announcements show what a difference our budget boost is making. When we came into Government, the medicines budget – like other parts of the health system – had been starved of investment, despite record population growth.

We’re fixing that. In 2020, we promised we’d increase Pharmac’s budget by $200 million over four years. We’ve kept that promise, and on top of that put in $71 million more this year, with another $120 million boost is in the pipeline for next year.

The medicines budget is now significantly bigger under Labour than it was when we were elected in 2017. This means better access to medicines and treatments for New Zealanders, helping people lead healthier lives.

Making sure that more people can access the medicines they need is just one of the ways that we’re creating a health system that works for everyone. Right across the country we’re upgrading hospitals and health centres, training more nurses and doctors, and putting in place more mental health support. We’ve also extended free GP visits to all children under the age of 14, and reduced the cost of going to the doctor for around 600,000 Kiwis 

There’s still more to do but we’re working hard to make sure New Zealand has a health system that we can be proud of.

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