30 Oct 2008

Drug-buying agency to provide more info to public

8:12 pm on 30 October 2008

The public is to be given greater insight into decision-making at the State drug-buying agency Pharmac.

Pharmac says it has taken on board the clear directive by the Government that it needs to make its processes more open and transparent to the public.

On Thursday, it released revised terms of reference for its key Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC).

The terms of reference take effect from 30 October and spell out, among other things, that minutes of PTAC sub-committees and some other minutes will be publicly available in future.

Pharmac chief executive Matthew Brougham says the changes will make its decisions about drug-funding applications more transparent and clear.

Radio New Zealand's health correspondent says Pharmac is constantly criticised over its decisions and has been accused of pressuring PTAC.

Pharmac has rejected that claim, but will adopt new terms of reference for PTAC and the clinical committees that advise it from 30 October.

It says it will begin publishing information about the deliberations of these committees, as well as funding applications and when PTAC defers decisions.

Pharmac says a wider range of health professionals will sit on PTAC and the group's relationship with Pharmac will be clarified in a bid to boost the public's confidence in its work.

Family doctors welcome Pharmac's move. Medical Association chairman Peter Foley says people need more information about the processes Pharmac follows when making decisions.