Andrew Little annoyed by Children’s Commissioner’s criticism of potential Pharmac move

Pharmac stressed that the current drug used by childhood cancer patients would not be taken away.

However, the health minister has so far refused to expressly support or oppose such a move, instead saying he supported all health agencies to do their best for all New Zealanders.

“I want something that is legal, complies with human rights obligations and everything else, and is best for New Zealand.

“I absolutely want children to get the best they can, because a young child with cancer has their whole life ahead of them … but actually we also want better for others.”

Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft called Pharmac’s CEO yesterday to voice his concerns.

“I don’t want a situation to amount to playing one disease against another. And children, with their diseases, are bargaining chips when faced with life-threatening conditions,” he told RNZ.

“All children in New Zealand can certainly have access to life-saving treatment. That should be the starting point.”

Little told Morning Report, however, that this was a “really unfortunate characterization” by the commissioner.

“To be honest, I would have expected better from him. If he knows that an organization is under investigation by the Human Rights Commission for not acting in accordance with the Human Rights Law and then if there is a finding that they are not, then they have an obligation. to comply with the Human Rights Act, and it is not up to the Children’s Commission to throw in its own grenade to somehow say it should be different. ‘

Little said the “supervisor’s hands will be tied” if he were driven by the law to make a change, in terms of trying to comply with the law and be consistent in their decision-making.

“In fairness to Pharmac, and it is being investigated by the Human Rights Commission, if it turns out that they are acting in a discriminatory manner, in a way that violates Human Rights Law, then they have a moral responsibility to ensure that they are acting in a manner that is in accordance with the Human Rights Act.

“What we definitely need to do is the way they make decisions – and this is one of the reasons we set up Pharmac’s review and decision making – is that they are agile and responsive and can actually make good decisions. so they can embrace new technologies when they are available. “

Interest group Patient Voice Aotearoa is shocked that Pharmac is considering abolishing the rule and calls on the minister to intervene.

But Little said he couldn’t do that because Pharmac was created to be specifically independent from politics.

He had sought assurance from officials that any drug currently available to treat childhood cancer will continue to be available.


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