District health boards say a new medicine centre in Christchurch will ensure hospitals meet the growing demand for cancer treatments.
Pharmaceutical company Baxter Healthcare is spending $3 million on the purpose-built centre, where it will make medicines used during chemotherapy.
Managing director David Akeroyd says construction has started on the centre. It will supply all six South Island DHBs by next April and employ more than 20 people.
Mr Akeroyd says the company has similar centres in Auckland and Hamilton. It will sign an agreement on Tuesday to supply products to the South Island DHBs for the next 10 years.
Canterbury DHB pharmacy services manager Paul Barrett says at present, half of the products it will source from the new centre are made at Christchurch Hospital. However, he says, growth in demand for treatments over the past 20 years means it no longer makes sense to keep making them onsite.
Mrl Barrett says that once the centre opens, staff who currently produce the medicines will not lose their jobs but will be freed up to concentrate on clinical work. He says that will result in more efficient treatment of patients who need intravenous drugs or chemotherapy.
Otago DHB group manager Sonja Dillion says the establishment of the centre will guarantee the supply of medicines for patients.