COVID-19: Information for patients
As New Zealand returns to our new normal, we are continuing to review how we can support patients and the health sector.
Last updated: 8 July 2020
On this page:
- I'm visiting New Zealand, how much will my medicine cost
- Easier access to some medicines
- Is there enough of my medicine
- What if there's a shortage?
- Change to monthly dispensing
- Nominated pharmacy
- Who to contact
PHARMAC decides what medicines to fund for eligible people. The Ministry of Health decides who is eligible for funded medicine.
You will need a prescription from a New Zealand doctor or prescriber.
Talk to a pharmacist about the cost and availability of your medication.
During the response to COVID-19 PHARMAC made it easier to get funded access to some medicines, including at least nine cancer medicines.
Some medicines are only funded if certain clinical criteria (like medical tests or hospital scans ). Some medicines might need a specific kind of health practitioner to make the application.
You might not even know that your medicine has these requirements, because the prescriber applies online, usually at the same time as they’re giving you the prescription.
Now that we're at level 1, we're reviewing the changes we made.
PHARMAC, pharmacies and suppliers are working closely together to maintain continuous medicines supply, and to put in place measures to minimise and fairly distribute any medicines in short supply.
We all have a role to play in keeping medicines available for our community - people on regular medicines should always have enough for 1 to 2 weeks treatment. Please avoid stockpiling your medicines. Stockpiling could lead to someone else missing out.
You should make sure you always have 1 to 2 weeks worth of your regular medicines.
If there is a shortage of your medicine, PHARMAC may change the restrictions around how much medicine can be dispensed at one time. You may need to collect smaller amounts of your medicine more frequently.
Phone your nearest pharmacy and ask them if they are able to fill your prescription.
To help manage supplies of medicines during our response to COVID-19 we restricted all medicines to monthly dispensing.
While New Zealand has returned to level 1, the rest of the world is still responding to the pandemic. This may affect the supply chains for our medicines.
We are working towards returning to mostly normal dispensing on 1 August 2020.
If you have a medicine that has received funding through the NPPA process, you will have nominated a pharmacy to collect that medicine from.
We suspended this requirement while New Zealand responded to COVID-19. Now that we have returned to level 1, the requirement to use your nominated pharmacy is re-instated.
If you are concerned about the availability of your medicine, contact your pharmacist.
Last updated: 13 August 2020