Health Minister misled Select Committee over Pharmac funding

Jonathan Coleman misled a health Select Committee in June when he claimed that Pharmac was happy to work within the Government’s flat-line funding of the drug-buying agency, the Green Party revealed today.

“We’ve learned today that, in fact, Pharmac had asked the Government for an extra $11 million for its combined pharmaceutical budget so it could invest in new drug treatments for sick Kiwis,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

“Instead, it was given a $5 million increase, which Pharmac had explicitly warned would ‘significantly challenge’ its ability to do its job.

“When I questioned Jonathan Coleman in the Select Committee on the shortfall in what Pharmac wanted from the 2015-2016 health Budget, the Minister claimed that Pharmac had ‘accepted’ the situation, because it is ‘very realistic’ about the ‘fiscal strategy that the Government has overall’.

“The letters released today seem to contradict those statements.

"It was very misleading of the Minister, when asked about the funding shortfall, to not even mention to the Select Committee that Pharmac had warned it would make it ‘significantly’ more difficult to do its job.

“The Government’s short-changing of Pharmac is yet another example of how it prioritises its own fiscal bottom line over New Zealanders’ health concerns.

“John Key’s admission that the TPPA will make drugs more expensive for Pharmac is doubly concerning when it’s clear the Government is already prepared to short-change the drug-buying agency.

“New Zealanders will lose access to vital medicines unless the Government commits to properly funding Pharmac so that it can purchase the medicines they need,” said Mr Hague.