COVID-19: Consideration for changes to funding

During the COVID-19 response, PHARMAC reviewed hundreds of medicines to see if we could make funding changes to support the health sector. 

We also received suggestions from professionals and other stakeholders about what we could do to help. 

What we changed

We made a range of changes to ensure people could continue to access the medicines they need. 

Read the full list of changes to access criteria

We extended approvals for Special Authority and NPPA applications. All applications that were due to expire on 31 March or 30 April were extended for three months.

We moved to monthly dispensing (away from three monthly, or "stat", dispensing). This change was to ease the demand on medicines. We returned to normal dispensing for most medicines on 1 August 2020.

Medicines we considered but did not amend

When reviewing whether to change the access criteria for funded access to medicine, we considered a number of factors including:

  • the relative need of affected patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • the additional cost of the proposals to the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget.

  • the commercial complexity of listing medicine in the Schedule temporarily. For example, securing contractual arrangements for pricing and supply and the impact on existing commercial arrangements for other products.

  • support needed for clinicians and patients for the introduction and withdrawal of funded access to these treatments.

  • whether the request was already being considered through PHARMAC's usual processes and, if so, whether there is a sufficient change in circumstances due to the current pandemic to warrant a more rapid assessment.

For several requests we sought additional information and advice from our clinical advice network.

Who to contact 

If you have questions about PHARMAC's work during the COVID-19 response, email enquiry@pharmac.govt.nz