All about people
2014 - 2018
How do you grow from a start-up to a 120 person organisation, while juggling the expectations of numerous competing stakeholders and the demands of the Government?
“Good governance and good people, that’s the key,” says former PHARMAC Chief Executive, Wayne McNee.
A common metaphor pops up when you talk to PHARMAC’s current and former leaders - David and Goliath. They felt, particularly in the early days, that victory was improbable. The pharmaceutical companies supplying the New Zealand market would never accept that the rules had changed.
But, against the odds, PHARMAC notched up win after win.
Former PTAC Chair John Hedley refers to PHARMAC’s founding team as the “tight four” - himself, Reinhard Pauls, Win Bennett and founding General Manager David Moore.
“I felt I was part of a close knit group and we were all motivated, though we came from disparate backgrounds, to get to grips with the same problem,” he says.
“It was a given that there was waste and we wanted to see it eliminated. It was unspoken, the depth of our willingness to tackle it.”
But former Chief Executive Wayne McNee also remembers some tense times as his team grappled with decisions that would have major implications for patients.
“There was quite a lot of challenge internally around whether we were making the right decisions,” he says.
“We were changing people’s medication and deciding whether to fund things.”
In testing each other’s positions, the team was better able to deal with the often intense criticism its decision making provoked from the drug companies, the health sector and the public.
“It was a sort of family,” says former Medical Director Peter Moodie.
As Moodie watched PHARMAC grow through the 14 years he spent at the agency, he saw it take on the attributes of a mid-sized corporation.
“But it still kept that element of family.”
Carl Burgess, Chair of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee from 2003 - 2012 saw a large increase in PHARMAC headcount during his tenure.
“That’s a good thing,” he says.
“It has allowed younger folk to develop and learn how to make assessments, and you can use those skills for other areas.”
Despite the growth in staff numbers as PHARMAC moved into tendering, then demand-side information and advocacy campaigns, vaccines and hospital medical devices, the agency has maintained the open internal communication that was essential to success early on.
That family vibe to PHARMAC, coupled with the professionalism of its staff, has served the agency well over 25 years says current PHARMAC Chair, Stuart McLauchlan.
“The culture in this organisation would be the strongest of any I’ve ever been involved in. It’s the excellence that comes through, the striving to do better.”
2014 - 2018
Last updated: 13 September 2018