22 Jan 2013

Pharmac prepares to expand role to hospital medical devices

9:22 am on 22 January 2013

Drug-buying agency Pharmac is gearing up to take over buying all hospital and other medical devices but says it will do so slowly and carefully.

Papers released to Radio New Zealand under the Official Information Act say the move will save millions, but will be challenging and there are potential risks involved.

Pharmac says it is hiring extra staff and preparing to expand its role to include medical devices. These range from rubber gloves and dressings to pacemakers, coronary stents and hip and knee implants, and cost District Health Boards $880 million a year.

Acting chief executive Peter Moodie said he believed the move will go well though it will be a lot of work.

The papers say having Pharmac manage medical devices move will more than double the agency's current responsibilities.

The change will make savings which are needed for reinvestment elsewhere in health, the documents say.

Potential challenges include the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks, despite the fact the Government has been clear the Pharmac model is not up for negotiation.