Concerns Over Lack of Pacific Voice for Pharmac Review

The president of the Pacific Pharmacists’ Association has expressed disappointment at the lack of a Pacific voice with the upcoming Pharmac review, given one of the issues to be addressed is equity amongst Maori and  Pacific peoples, including access to medicines and medical devices for Pacific communities. Kasey Brown says a government led Pharmac review has not consulted her organisation, nor has it included a Pacific representative on its panel.

In a written statement from the Pasifika Medical Association Group, of which Ms. Brown is a member, says she is disappointed that there is no Pacific representation on the panel to give voice to the 300,000 Pacific people in New Zealand. It is understood Ms. Brown was not contacted about the review and only found out after the announcement was made.

“It blows my mind that we were not consulted. I don’t want to put Pharmac into a situation because we normally collaborate with each other. But it’s very disappointing that there is not going to be a Pacific voice, especially when they are going to be looking at equity for our Pacific peoples,” says Ms. Brown.

Her concern in her Gisborne pharmacy is the community not being able to understand the collective impact of modern medicines.

“There is a lack of understanding, and fear within our community when they are not used to their medication. For example, for one condition you may need one to four medications to treat it. For example, with diabetes you can be on insulin as well as oral medication. There’s a lack of understanding why you may need both when they do two completely different things to help manage that condition.”

Pharmac is the government’s drug buying agency and decides what lifesaving and life transforming drugs are made available to New Zealanders. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little announced a panel of experts will lead an independent review of the agency, focusing on the timeliness and transparency of decision making.

In the statement, Minister of Health Andrew Little says he expects the review committee will decide its own consultation process. He says it will include at a minimum the appropriate input from consumers, Maori, Pacific peoples, clinicians and industry.

PW is awaiting a response from the Ministry of Health Manatū Hauora.

Image Credit: Pasifika Futures