Inpharmation - March 2015
In this issue:
From the Chief Executive
Our job at PHARMAC is to think about the health needs of all New Zealanders seeking pharmaceuticals, and what we can do to help improve their access to medicines that work. We make sure the next taxpayer dollar spent gets the best value. This means taking a look at the clinical evidence and not taking promotional claims by pharmaceutical companies at face value.
We understand that people want to be able to use the most effective treatments - so do we. But when we lift the hood on new medicines, what we see is that sometimes the risks and benefits don’t stack up against the costs. It’s clear to us that newer does not always mean better, and expensive does not necessarily mean high quality or high effectiveness.
This year we’ve seen increasing commentary in the international media about high cost medicines(external link). In some countries, funders don’t have the option of saying no(external link), or have even created systems that encouraged higher prices(external link).
We can fund more medicines for more people when we get prices down by encouraging competition. We’ve been very successful at this, and international studies on medicine prices often rank New Zealand as having some of the most competitive prices in the world. But more significantly, contracts for medicines means greater surety of supply than virtually any other country in the world – not bad given we’re so far from the action and so small a market (globally about 0.1 percent).
Our work to set up a competitive process for medicines for rare disorders has underlined this point, showing that competitive pressure can have positive effects on pricing, even for medicines that occupy niche markets.
We’re confident that, as a result of this process, people with rare disorders will see improved access to medicines through the competitive process we have been able to run. And that goes to demonstrate that better access to medicines that work comes from competition, not from heedlessly spending on the latest medicine with the best publicity.
The PHARMAC Seminar Series runs educational events for health professionals focusing on various aspects of clinical care. The seminars are popular and highly regarded by those who attend.
We’ve been working to make the content of these seminars even more widely available, to build up an extensive library of educational clinical resources. Seminars are now routinely videoed and uploaded to our YouTube channel(external link). You can subscribe to the channel at no cost to see future videos.
Thank you to everyone who answered our stakeholder survey. We are now going to do some in depth interviews to help with the next stage. Once we have done this we will let you know the results and what actions we will take to ensure you get the best information and engagement we can provide.
We will begin implementing the Factors for Consideration from late this year, to replace the Decision Criteria we currently use.
At that time, there will be some changes to the information we request for Pharmaceutical Schedule funding applications. You will be able to find this information in our Guidelines for Funding Applications to PHARMAC when they are updated later this year.
There is a significant amount of work involved in implementing the Factors. A lengthy lead-in time will help ensure that the Factors are implemented as smoothly as possible. We will be engaging with people throughout the year to help familiarise them with the new framework and to help them and us understand what the changes will mean in practice before they come into effect.
In the meantime, the current Decision Criteria will continue to be used to make funding decisions.
Blood glucose meters are important pieces of equipment to help people manage their diabetes. In 2012 we moved to a sole supplier of the CareSens brand of meters. That contract ends this year, so we’re now considering how these meters will be funded in the future.
Our first step is to ask people about the proposed process and timeframe for any changes. We think the process of seeking proposals, assessing meters and public consultation will take up to 18 months. During this time we’ll be giving people many opportunities to provide their views.
We’d like to hear from as many individuals and groups as we can. The discussion document has some specific questions that PHARMAC is particularly interested in feedback on. People may choose to answer all, or some, of the questions as they wish.
We’ll be taking people’s feedback on board before moving towards the competitive process, which will involve seeking proposals from the suppliers of blood glucose meters and test strips.
In the meantime, funding for the CareSens meters and strips will continue until we’ve made any future decisions on funding.
Our Request for Proposals for medicines for rare disorders closed with 28 proposals received from eight suppliers. We’re now in discussions with some of those suppliers as we work towards listing medicines for rare disorders.
We’re really pleased with the way pharmaceutical companies have participated in this process, which looks to have resulted in proposals from suppliers for medicines not previously available in New Zealand.
We won’t be revealing what’s on our list, but will be progressively negotiating with suppliers over the next few months. We’ve sought clinical advice and conducted our own analysis to arrive at our priority list.
PHARMAC has identified up to $25 million over five years that is available for rare disorders medicines funding. Funding for medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule will be open-ended.
We look forward to working together with industry to increase people’s access to medicines through good prices for effective medicines.
In partnership with the Māori Pharmacists Association (MPA), PHARMAC provided medication advisory services to whānau attending the Rātana Pā celebrations in January 2015.
Over the two-day hui, two MPA members Leanne Te Karu and Fiona Corbin talked to 125 people about their medicines and health needs. The hauora service was held within the Rātana faith kaupapa Māori environment, providing the service to whānau in an environment where they felt comfortable.
Leanne Te Karu of the MPA comments that the experience at the hui demonstrated that non-Māori can successfully share korero and provide sensitive health advice to whānau, provided it is within a kaupapa Māori structure.
Her colleague Fiona Corbin claims no whakapapa Māori, but was able to combine her clinical pharmacy and cultural competence training to good effect.
Leanne Te Karu said the MPA members heard a lot about people’s experiences in the health system and with diseases such as heart disease, asthma and gout, and that many people have subsequently been followed up as they returned home.
Last updated: 9 March 2018