Release: Labour pledges billion-dollar medicines boost

Labour will fund more medicines for more New Zealanders by investing over $1 billion of new funding into Pharmac if re-elected, Chris Hipkins announced today.

“Over the past six years Labour has done more to increase access to medicine than any government before it, and this billion-dollar boost will see our investment in the health of Kiwis continue,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Labour will turbocharge Pharmac funding to get more medicines to Kiwis in need.

“Labour will provide $181 million of funding a year from 2024/25 so Pharmac can continue to meet the ongoing cost of the additional treatments we’ve funded in recent years.

“In addition, we will pump in an extra $50 million for new treatments from 2024/25, rising to $100 million per year in 2026/27.

“This funding boost will provide more cancer treatment as well as treatment for other conditions too.

“Overall our boost will increase Pharmac’s funding by more than $1 billion over the next four years, a total increase of 62 per cent since Labour took office in 2017.

“Labour’s increased investment is in stark contrast to National’s track record. You can’t trust the Coalition of Cuts to fund medicines.

“Under National, Pharmac was starved of funding when they froze its budget for three years and only increased the medicines budget by 25 per cent over nine years.

“When Labour came into Government, Pharmac’s funding was only $870 million a year, it’s now $1.2 billion a year.

“Our funding boosts have meant Pharmac has made available 75 new listings and widened access to 137 treatments. It’s estimated that over 118,000 New Zealanders have benefited from the funding decisions implemented in 2021/2022 alone.

“This year we have also removed the $5 prescription payment for all New Zealanders, helping 2 million people in July/August alone.

“We will also continue to support Pharmac to independently ensure that all medicines are considered, not just those that appeal to certain politicians,” Chris Hipkins said.

Our investments so far means Pharmac has been able to support:

  • More modern medicines that help Kiwis fight cancer
  • Blood cancer medicines like venetoclax for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Medicines for rare diseases like Spinraza and Trikafta for Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Cystic Fibrosis respectively
  • Preventive medicines like PreP for HIV and Bexsero vaccine against meningitis
  • Medicines for multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and Hepatitis C
  • Modern medicine for people who have chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, mental health or contraception

“We want to give Pharmac the funding it needs to strike the best deals it can on behalf of all New Zealanders, not only those conditions singled out by National,” Chris Hipkins said.

“National’s plan punishes those who rely on free prescriptions and seriously undermines Pharmac’s ability to work to strike the best deal for New Zealanders.

“No one chooses to be unwell, and medicine can be expensive, that’s why Labour will continue to grow the amount and types of medicines New Zealanders can access,” Chris Hipkins said.


Find out more here