Media Releases

Pharmac Under Attack by Pharmaceutical Industry

28 September 2012:

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) believes the role of drug-buying agency PHARMAC will change radically under the terms of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) currently being negotiated between 11 Asian and Pacific-rim countries including the United States and New Zealand.


General manager of Medicines New Zealand, Kevin Sheehy, has dismissed analysis by visiting Australian public health and trade expert Dr Deborah Gleeson that showed the TPPA would undermine the effectiveness of Pharmac.


NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals, responding to commented on Sheehy’s dismissal said it’s not surprising the pharmaceutical industry rejected concerns the TPPA would reduce the effectiveness of Pharmac.


“Pharmac is very successful in doing what it was set up to do: making medicines more affordable. Pharmac is the national medicines purchasing agency that has achieved the greatest success anywhere in the world in balancing the health interests of people and communities against the business interests of big medicines companies. Pharmac is under attack by the pharmaceutical industry because it is successful and the ‘Pharmac model’ is being adopted by other countries needing a better balance between business and health interests”, he said.


The pharmaceutical  industry argues that Pharmac will be improved by being forced to operate more transparently under the TPPA but Annals rejects this; “If Pharmac needs more transparency, why attempt to force this through trade negotiations conducted in secret? Whose interests are being served? NZNO is concerned that United States (US) pharmaceutical interests are attempting to use the TPPA to undermine Pharmac’s success in serving the interests of New Zealanders.”


“Pharmac purchases medicines for New Zealanders at prices around half those achieved by Australia’s medicines purchasing agency and around a third the price demanded in the US. Yes, this is painful to the medicines industry but it means huge savings for the New Zealand health sector.  Analysis of leaked drafts of the TPPA by Dr Gleeson and other experts expose provisions designed to force up the price New Zealanders pay for medicines by attacking the mechanisms that make Pharmac effective,” Annals said.


Assurances that Pharmac would be preserved under the TPPA were empty when it was apparent the Pharmac envisaged was a Pharmac redesigned by US pharmaceutical firms to serve their interests, not ours, he concluded.  

Posted in: Public Health

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