An angry Northland cancer patient who is part of group lobbying for better access to publicly-funded drugs says the $200 million given to Pharmac in the Budget "isn't good at all".
Denise Lemmen of Whangārei said the reality was Pharmac would only get $40m for 2021/22 which may not all be used to fund new medicines as the agency independently decided how to use the money.
Lemmen was diagnosed with metastatic, stage four cancer, in 2018 and is taking Ibrance tablets that cost her $5850 a month until Pfizer funded the drug for her in July 2019 under an early access scheme.
Pharmac started funding Ibrance for all New Zealanders from April 2020.
She is part of Patient Voice Aotearoa that collected more than 100,000 signatures and presented their petition, which called for better access to publicly-funded drugs, to the Government about two weeks ago.
Lemmen was angry because ''we went to Wellington and laid our bodies in front of Parliament in an effort to get the Government to double the drugs budget. Pharmac says it has a wishlist of $419m.
"I am beyond not happy, devastated, and angry by what Pharmac has received. It's not good at all. The trouble is so many people who need publicly-funded drugs now will sell their homes to fund them or go to places like Australia.
"In New Zealand, they'll die and they'll die young. Of the 50 people that have died and whose photos we took to Wellington, one was two years old and another 11 months old. Four of those I know were Northlanders," Lemmen said.
She said Pharmac didn't even fund EpiPen— a life-saving medication used to treat anaphylaxis— which cost $120.
Another drug, Trikafta that works for 90 per cent of cystic fibrosis patients, she said isn't publicly-funded and costs upwards of $383,000 a year in New Zealand.
Lemmen said the $200m allocated to Pharmac looked good on paper only but wasn't as groundbreaking and earth shattering as the Government would have people believe.
She said New Zealand has less access to new, high-cost medicines than other countries while a 2019 study found New Zealanders had the worst access to funded modern medicines in OECD nations.