Comparing PHARMAC's outcomes with those of Australia

MAESTrO Database

7 February 2019 - New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern's claim that is unfair to compare PHARMAC's outcomes with those achieved across the ditch are completely unfounded.

Jacinda Ardern believes it's unfair to compare New Zealand's cancer drug purchasing to that of Australia.

The Prime Minister was responding to backlash from cancer sufferers who feel let down by the Government's drug-buying agency PHARMAC, which takes significantly longer to approve new drugs than Australia. 

Surely, the Prime Minister would not make statements like this without advice. The big question is who advised her to say this; her own (pharmaceutical) advisor or PHARMAC (or both)? The involvement of PHARMAC cannot be excluded.

This is astonishing given PHARMAC conducted its own comparison of cancer medicines access in New Zealand and Australia (Mind the Gap) and was published on its website and later in the peer reviewed journal Seminars in Oncology.

This analysis has been criticised both locally and internationally. Professor John Zalcberg and I wrote a letter to the Editor of Seminars in Oncology expressing our concerns; it was published in the October 2017 issue of the journal.

If the Prime Minister of NZ is so concerned about the outcomes of her country's health care system being compared with those of other (developed) countries, then why does she allow her government to provide health data to the OECD?

If is reasonable and acceptable for the New Zealand Prime Minister to state that it is unfair to compare PHARMAC's outcomes with those in Australia, then it must be equally reasonable and acceptable for the Australian Prime Minister to state that it is unfair to compare the outcomes of the Wallabies with those of the All Blacks.

Michael Wonder

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Michael Wonder