Effect of COVID-19 on medicine supply

OIA response

Information regarding PHARMAC’s response to, and ongoing management of, COVID-19 related pharmaceutical supply issues.

[name and contact details redacted]

Dear [name redacted] 


Thank you for your email of 31 March 2020.  Under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) you asked for any reports prepared for the Board or Ministers since 1 January 2020, concerning the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on medicine supply. 

Information being released

We are releasing the following documents to you under the OIA which relate to PHARMAC’s response to, and ongoing management of, COVID-19 related pharmaceutical supply issues:

  1. Briefings and updates for the PHARMAC Board (February–March 2020)
    1. Emails to the Board [PDF, 1.3 MB]
    2. Reports and memos to the Board [PDF, 828 KB]
  2. Weekly media and issues updates (February–March 2020) for the Minister of Health and senior leaders across PHARMAC and the Ministry of Health
    1. Comms weekly report | 21 February 2020 [PDF, 652 KB]
    2. Comms weekly report | 28 February 2020 [PDF, 459 KB]
    3. Comms weekly report | 6 March 2020 [PDF, 1.3 MB]
    4. Comms weekly report | 13 March 2020 [PDF, 441 KB]
    5. Comms weekly report | 20 March 2020 [PDF, 925 KB]
    6. Comms weekly report | 27 March 2020 [PDF, 507 KB]
  3. ‘No surprises’ updates for the Minister of Health (March 2020) [PDF, 439 KB]
  4. Reports to the Minister of Health (February and March 2020) [PDF, 451 KB] 

You will see from these documents that COVID-19 is likely to have global impacts on medicine manufacture and supply chains for the remainder of 2020 and potentially beyond. PHARMAC is actively engaging with suppliers about contingency plans and we will continue to update our website with information as the situation evolves. See pharmac.govt.nz/covid19

PHARMAC is sourcing additional hand hygiene products used in hospitals.  NZHP, working on behalf of the 20 DHBs, is taking the lead on ventilators, laboratory testing products and PPE. 

We are working with all our providers - both medicine suppliers and medical device suppliers - to minimise any impacts of the general supply chain and manufacturing disruptions caused by the various shutdowns. The Ministry of Health is coordinating this and is helping us understand what might be needed over and above what we already have.

Please note that PHARMAC approaches its assessment of requests for information under the OIA on the basis that, once released, the information becomes publicly available - in other words 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 therefore redacted direct contact details for PHARMAC personnel, and the names and contact details of people external to PHARMAC, from the documents as we consider this is necessary to protect the privacy of those people (section 9(2)(a)).  

We have redacted some commercially sensitive information relating to specific pharmaceutical suppliers from the documents under sections 9(2)(b)(ii), 9(2)(ba)(i) and 9(2)(j).  We have also redacted some free and frank advice provided from PHARMAC to the Board to aid them in their decision-making, on the basis of s9(2)(g)(i). 

Finally, we have redacted all material from the documents which concerns topics or issues that are not COVID-19 related and are therefore out of scope of your request. 

As required under the OIA, we have 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.

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 will now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this. 

Yours sincerely 

Rachel Read
Manager, Policy & Government Services