New Zealand public help improve PHARMAC decision making

Media release

After listening to what New Zealanders had to say, PHARMAC has changed the way it makes decisions - the most significant change to its decision making in its 23 year history.

“This is a big improvement and an exciting change for PHARMAC; one that wouldn’t have been possible without public engagement,” says PHARMAC Chief Executive Steffan Crausaz. “The public’s views were essential as the way we make decisions affects nearly every New Zealander.”

PHARMAC has worked with a wide range of stakeholders on the change, including patients, clinicians, care-givers and consumers; PHARMAC held nationwide forums in order to consult with as many community groups as possible.

“This change has been collaborative, and reflects the considerable input of the public to our consultation.”

Crausaz says PHARMAC considers a wide range of issues when making difficult funding decisions. The central dilemmas are always about balancing different patient needs across different treatment areas, often with different levels of information and evidence. PHARMAC’s job is to make responsible choices on behalf of all New Zealanders; the factors help guide these decisions. 

“We’ve created an approach to decision making that is more easily understood so it’s clear what we take into account when we make our funding decisions,” says Mr Crausaz

“PHARMAC have always taken into account a wide range of factors when we make decisions, but this improvement means we are more explicit about them. This greater clarity will have benefits for our decision-making and for public understanding of how PHARMAC goes about its work,” says Crausaz.

Among the changes for the Factors is the explicit acknowledgement that PHARMAC considers the impact of a decision on a person, their family, whānau and on wider society, and also recognises the wider impact on the health system. PHARMAC will consider these impacts in terms of need, health benefits, costs and savings, and suitability.

“The development of the Factors for Consideration highlights the positive influence feedback from the community can have. We encourage New Zealanders to continue helping us with our decisions through future consultation opportunities.”