David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

WikiLeaks: Drug firms tried to ditch Clark

Herald on Sunday senior staffers David Fisher and Jonathan Milne have obtained a 250,000-word dossier of secret WikiLeaks cables. The vast collection will embarrass some politicians but raises key issues of national security. All of the cables will be uploaded to nzherald.co.nz over the next few days.

Helen Clark. Photo / NZ Listener.
Helen Clark. Photo / NZ Listener.

Drug companies tried to get rid of Helen Clark when she was health minister, leaked US Embassy cables claim.

They also claim that one major drug firm so strongly objected to restrictive drug buying rules that it lobbied against New Zealand getting a Free Trade Agreement with the US.

The detail is buried inside cables from the embassy obtained by WikiLeaks revealing the struggles of the pharmaceutical industry to gain traction inside New Zealand.

The cables reveal that the drug industry changed tactics in trying to get New Zealand to change its drug pricing policy.

Instead of directly lobbying the Government, the embassy was told of plans to agitate patients by providing them with information about drugs that weren't available. It would "educate New Zealanders."

Also, Pfizer would "oppose free-trade negotiations" until the New Zealand Government changed policy.

The cables also highlighted tension between the industry, Clark and Health Minister Annette King.

"The industry may be paying a price for its unsuccessful effort in 1990 to unseat Clark, who at the time was health minister."

Medicines NZ chief executive officer Denise Wood said yesterday "new personalities" in government had reduced tension. She also said the industry had changed from six years ago.

- Herald on Sunday

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