Pharmac board chairman Steve Maharey is backing an early access scheme that would give patients access to new and emerging drugs faster.

Maharey told the Herald that while Pharmac's core business was sound, it was a model under stress.

Pharmaceuticals and medical devices were changing with increasing speed and the migration of new ideas around the world was much faster, Maharey said.

"The biggest mega-trend that's affecting Pharmac is that trend to need to respond more quickly to innovations in new medicines, and will be in medical devices, and to put them into practice once they've been evaluated," he said.

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