OIA Response: Medicines from China

Request for information about medicines and China's role in the supply chain.

17 March 2020 

[Name and contact details redacted] 

Dear [Redacted] 

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION 

Thank you for your email of 27 February 2020, asking for the following information:

  • A list of medication made in China used in NZ
  • Medication raw materials made in China and shipped to NZ
  • Current/Status of medicines used in NZ made by China
  • A list of medications made in New Zealand 

Country of manufacture of medicines and their excipients

The pharmaceutical supply chain has multiple steps. Manufacturing for active ingredients, excipients (inactive ingredients), and final products – as well as quality testing, primary packaging and secondary packaging – can all potentially take place in separate locations. Often suppliers have multiple sites registered for these steps.

With multiple sites registered, even different batches of the same product can potentially come via different supply chains. A large number of the medicines imported to New Zealand do have some or all of their manufacturing and production steps in China, but we’re unable to give an exact number based on the information we have at this time. 

PHARMAC does not hold the information you’ve requested about imported ingredients for medicines, or importation of medicines manufactured in China, but we suggest you may like to contact Medsafe directly (www.medsafe.govt.nz(external link)) to find out if it holds  information about overseas manufacturing sites and country of manufacture details for particular medicines and their raw materials.

Medsafe holds information about New Zealand manufacturing, packaging and testing sites for pharmaceuticals on its website as follows:

www.medsafe.govt.nz/regulatory/licensed.asp(external link)

www.medsafe.govt.nz/regulatory/packers.asp(external link)

www.medsafe.govt.nz/regulatory/contractTesting.asp(external link) 

Current status of medicines used in NZ

PHARMAC maintains a solid focus on the continuity of supply of funded pharmaceuticals and medical devices used in New Zealand through the agreements we have in place with suppliers.

The responsibility is on contracted suppliers to actively manage their supply chains to maintain robust stock levels.  Under PHARMAC contracts suppliers are generally required to keep a minimum stock in New Zealand equal to two months' demand. There is typically another four to six weeks’ worth of stock available across the wholesale and retail supply chain. Some medicines (for example, some oral antibiotics) have a greater minimum stock holding requirement, such as four months.

Information about stock supply management is provided on PHARMAC’s website at: www.pharmac.govt.nz/about/your-guide-to-pharmac/factsheet-07-managing-medicine-supply/

Anecdotally, we understand that New Zealand experiences fewer out of stock incidences than other countries and we think that this could be due to the number of sole supply arrangements we have in place with pharmaceutical suppliers.  Suppliers are better able to predict and manage their supply chains to meet New Zealand’s demand and their contractual obligations can ensure that they get to the ‘front of the queue’ if manufacturers are allocating stock. 

I trust that this response answers your questions about medication supply and manufacture. 

Yours sincerely 

Rachel Read
Policy Manager, Engagement and Implementation