The vaccines story - adding value - PHARMAC's impact in people's lives
PHARMAC began managing the national immunisation schedule in 2012. Since then, PHARMAC has added four new vaccines and given New Zealanders greater access to 13 already funded vaccines. In late 2017 we also proposed funding for a vaccine for zoster (shingles) for those aged 65, while those up to the age of 80 would take part in a catch-up programme, benefitting up to 600,000 people.
We have achieved these results despite the potential impacts on our fixed budget. While the gross expenditure on vaccines has increased, PHARMAC’s approach means that actual expenditure, via confidential rebates, is well managed.
Highlights of our management of vaccines include:
- Listing of rotavirus vaccine for all children, from 1 July 2014. Rotavirus is a significant cause of gastric illness in young children, and the listing of the vaccine was linked with a 75% reduction in children up to 2 years being admitted to Auckland hospitals for the illness.
- Listing of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. This was first listed in 2013 for children with compromised immune systems. In 2017 access was widened to all eligible children, when chickenpox vaccine was included in the national immunisation schedule.
- Funding HPV vaccine for males up to 26. As well as causing cervical cancer in women, human papilloma virus (HPV) is associated with other cancers such as throat, head and neck cancers.
- From 2013, pregnant women were able to obtain the funded pertussis vaccine against whooping cough, ensuring an estimated 30,000 women and their newborn babies are protected against this disease.
- The awarding of sole supply, to Mylan, for the influenza vaccine from 2017-19 and enabling pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine to people aged 65 and over, and pregnant women, means more people can access the flu vaccine.
The number of New Zealanders who have access to funded vaccines grew from 1.75 million in 2013 to an anticipated 2.05 million in 2018. At the same time, the net price paid for vaccines is falling.
Unlike most medicines used in the community, PHARMAC manages the distribution of most vaccines from the manufacturer to vaccinators. It inherited this approach in 2012 when responsibility for vaccines management was transferred from the Ministry of Health. PHARMAC streamlined the vaccine distribution systems from 2014 and signed new agreements for national and regional storage and distribution services. This has resulted in improved stock management, reduced wastage and improved reporting to enable greater oversight by PHARMAC. As well as driving more savings in our operational budget through these agreements, PHARMAC is better placed to respond to supply issues, or issues that may occur in the environment.
The vaccines story demonstrates the power of the PHARMAC model - improving access to vaccines, listing more vaccines and streamlining distribution, all while containing the fiscal impacts, so that more New Zealanders can live longer and healthier lives.
Last updated: 21 November 2017