In New Zealand, medicines are registered for use and funded through two separate and distinct processes.
Registration of Medicines in New Zealand
Medsafe is the government body responsible for registering medicines; they determine whether medicines meet acceptable standards of safety, quality and efficacy. Watch the video below of Dr Stuart Jessamine (Group Manager, Medsafe), who explains the process for registering medicines.
Once medicines are registered in New Zealand, they can be prescribed by doctors for patients.
How Medicines are Funded in New Zealand
The funding of medicines in New Zealand is overseen by Pharmac, the government’s purchasing agency for medicines. Pharmac have a budget to purchase medicines and it is not possible to fund all medicines out of this budget. Pharmac uses a number of criteria to make decisions on which medicines should be funded. Watch the video below of Steffan Crausaz (Chief Executive, Pharmac), who explains the process involved for funding medicines.
The reality is that the New Zealand government cannot afford to fund every medicine. If you and your doctor decide that an unfunded medicine is the best treatment option, you will need to pay for the medicine yourself. In addition, you may need to see a doctor at a private treatment centre.
Patient Experiences and Support
There are a number of places you can go for help and support when deciding whether to opt for an unfunded medicine. Below are two videos which you may find helpful. Dr Sue Walthert talks about her experience as a patient with breast cancer and how she and her doctors discussed all treatment options including unfunded ones. In the second video Libby Burgess from Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition talks about the important role patient groups have in supporting patients.