Revealing our priority lists

In July 2021, Pharmac further enhanced its transparency by sharing its priority lists.

These lists include all funding applications that have been assessed but not yet funded – so sharing them meant finding the balance of protecting commercially sensitive information with being transparent about how medicines are being considered. 

Every year, we get about 85 applications to fund different medicines and related products. These applications are requests to fund a medicine to treat a specific condition. 

They are usually very comprehensive with detailed clinical trial information and an initial price offer. Once assessed, applications are placed on one of three priority lists: 

  • options for investment
  • only if cost neutral or cost saving 
  • recommended for decline.

“We have always wanted to be more transparent about where applications are at in our funding process,” explains Chief Executive Sarah Fitt. 

“Publishing the options for investment list in alphabetical order ensures there is easy access to our information for all, without giving pharmaceutical suppliers specifics that could compromise our negotiating position. We can continue to negotiate the best prices with pharmaceutical companies, whilst building the trust and confidence of New Zealand.”

The options for investment list includes all the applications that would be funded if we had the budget for them. Some applications on this list are for new medicines and some are for medicines already funded that we would like to fund for more patients.

While there will always be more medicines that we would like to fund, we hope that, by making our priority lists easily available, New Zealanders will have more clarity about where applications are at. Sarah Fitt, Chief Executive

The recommended for decline list generally includes applications that expert clinical advisors have suggested we decline for funding. Often this is because these medicines would add no value or could be harmful.

“People should have more certainty of information about applications, even if this is a decision to decline funding,” says Sarah.

The cost neutral or cost saving list includes applications that may get funded if we can negotiate a deal that saves money, or at least doesn’t cost more than something already funded.

If a funding application is not on one of the priority lists, it is still under assessment.

We hope that by being more transparent, New Zealanders will have more trust and confidence in our work.