INDEPENDENT NEWS

Who should get expensive high-tech medicines?

Published: Mon 16 Jun 2008 12:32 AM
Who should get expensive high-tech medicines?
Health sector meets to discuss affordable assess to high cost, highly specialised medicines
A ground-breaking conference in starting in Wellington tomorrow will seek a fair solution to the problem of funding high-cost, highly specialized medicines.
The conference brings together groups across the health sector, including consumer organizations, officials, and medical specialists.
Facilitator Roger Sowry said New Zealand faces tough decisions every day about who gets access to which drugs, and without a set of agreed principles, cases often become political and media issues.
“Everyone recognizes that there is a limit to how much we can afford as a country,” Mr Sowry said. “But on the other hand, the medicines being developed now are hugely effective in certain cases, and hugely expensive to develop.”
He said the conference, in association with the NZ Medical Association, the Access to Medicines Coalition and the Research Medicine Industry Association, aims to get all players working towards a set of guidelines which can make the process fair.
“We are really hopeful that we can make a significant difference in New Zealand,” Mr Sowry said. “There are already thousands of New Zealanders affected by access to these medicines, and as technology is advancing rapidly in this area it can only become a more pressing problem for the country if we don’t find a solution.”
Speakers will include:
• Reknowned ‘radio doctor’ Dr Norman Swan, a multi-award winning medical broadcaster and investigative journalist.
• Dalton Kelly (Cancer Society of New Zealand)
• Dr Peter Foley (Chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association)
• Dr Jacquie Harper (the Mallaghan Institute)
• Plus a group of patients who are living with conditions which could benefit from these high cost medicines.
A similar collaborative forum was held in Australia last year, where it led to changes in the funding system that gave more patients access to these highly specilalised medicines. The event is funded by an educational grant from Wyeth New Zealand.
Affordable Access to High Cost,
Highly-Specialised Medicines in New Zealand Forum
Wellington, June 17th & 18th
ENDS

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