Bringing a consumer perspective to clinical advice

Media release

Pharmac is making changes to the way its advisory committees work to strengthen the input of consumer perspectives in its decisions.

New terms of reference for Pharmac’s external advisory committees come into effect on 1 November 2021. The key changes mean there will be more consumer input on Pharmac’s clinical advisory committees.

Pharmac’s chief medical officer Dr David Hughes says Pharmac values our clinicians’ advice when making decisions on medicines funding, but also recognises that consumer’s feedback is important too.

“Along with the feedback we receive from the public day-to-day and through our consultation process, we’ve always needed our advisory committees to inform our decisions. Hearing from a range of perspectives ensures we are making the most informed decisions we can.,” says Dr Hughes.

“If we are to deliver the best health outcomes for everyone in New Zealand, we must consider and incorporate the needs of the community, whānau, and individuals in the decisions we make.”

Pharmac publicly consulted on proposed changes to the advisory committees earlier this year, suggesting:

  • bringing a consumer perspective into the clinical advisory committees
  • broadening the role of CAC to include medicine funding proposals
  • renaming the PTAC Subcommittees as Specialist Advisory Committees with their own terms of reference
  • enhancing diversity and health equity expertise across all advisory committees.

“We want to thank everyone who provided feedback on our discussion document about the proposed changes,” says Dr Hughes.

“The feedback provided some excellent suggestions and reassured us that it’s time to emphasise the consumer perspective across our clinical advisory committees.

“These changes will take some time to put in place. We want to make sure that we get feedback from our advisors on how best to make these changes work. We know that these changes will mean that we will be better equipped to listen and respond to the needs of New Zealanders,” says David.

Pharmac is working with the members of its advisory committees over the coming months to implement the new terms of reference and make any transitions as smooth as possible.


PTAC has informed the government in various forms for several decades. When Pharmac was established in 1993, the committee formally became the primary independent expert clinical advice group informing Pharmac's funding decisions. PTAC provides and promotes critical appraisal of the strength and quality of evidence for funding applications. PTAC’s members are appointed by the Director-General of Health in consultation with the Pharmac Board.

The Specialist Advisory Committees (formerly known as PTAC subcommittees) provide Pharmac with knowledge and expertise within specific clinical areas. The 21 committees meet as required to discuss pharmaceutical funding issues.

CAC was established in 2002 and has ten members. The Public Health and Disability Act requires Pharmac to convene the CAC. All members are appointed by the Board.

Other advisory committees provide Pharmac with appropriate external advice to support the range of work it does. Find out more about how Pharmac gets advice: