Correspondence about funding for COVID-19 medicines

OIA response

Thank you for your updated request dated 15 December 2021 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to communications between Pharmac and the Government about the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF). On 11 November 2021, you requested: 

Any internal/external correspondence re. The below from 1 August 2021 - present:

  • Covid medicine buying fund
  • Covid medicines
  • Ie, copies/details of any communications re. The Covid medicines fund or covid medicines between Pharmac and:
  • the Prime Minister
  • the Director General of Health
  • the Ministry of Health
  • MP Andrew Little
  • MP Chris Hipkins
  • MP Grant Robertson
  • any other parties referencing the above terms. 

Further to our email to you of 24 November 2021 about refining the scope of your request, you noted: 

I’m specifically looking for communications between Pharmac and Government re. The Covid medicines fund. 

Particularly anything related to how the budget was fixed and whether Pharmac had to ‘bid’ for a covid medicines budget as it does for the CPB. 

Thank you for taking the time to clarify your request so that we can consider what information we can provide to assist with your enquiry. As noted in my letter of 2 February 2022, Pharmac engaged with the Treasury in November 2021 about funding for COVID-19 treatments. I also advised that we extended the timeframe to make a decision for this request as we needed more time to consult about the release of any correspondence about our engagement with the Treasury. 

We have now completed the necessary consultations and I have included copies of the correspondence between Pharmac and the Treasury about funding for COVID-19 treatments with this letter. 

Please note that we approach our assessment of requests for information under the OIA on the basis that once we release the information to you it becomes available to any other party in that exact form (whether by you distributing it to others or by virtue of us receiving the same request from a different third party). 

We have redacted a small amount of information from the documents as we consider this is necessary to:

  • protect the privacy of natural persons (section 9(2)(a));
  • protect information where the making available of the information would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information (section 9(2)(b)(ii)); or
  • enable Pharmac to carry on, without prejudice or disadvantage, negotiations, including commercial negotiations (section 9(2)(j)). 

As required under the OIA, we also considered whether, in the circumstances, the withholding of this information was outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable, in the public interest, to make this information available. In this case we did not consider that the public interest outweighed the reasons for withholding the information.

Additionally, please note that we have not released (as allowed under section 18(d) of the OIA) a copy of the draft Cabinet paper containing financial recommendations about the CRRF (initiative number 14104), sent to Pharmac on 12 November 2021, as this paper and its associated minute will soon be made publicly available as part of the Budget 2022 proactive release. 

Please note you have the right, by way of complaint under section 28(3) of the OIA to an Ombudsman, to seek an investigation and review of our decision.

We trust that this information answers your queries. We are making our information more freely available, so we now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this.