Media release: Not all new medicines are worth funding: don’t knock Pharmac for being careful

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Media Release
3 August, 2023

Wellington (Thursday, 3 August 2023) – Pharmac is commonly criticised for being too slow to fund new medicines and for not funding many of them.

A policy note released today by the New Zealand Initiative shows why this may be desirable. It cites a German study that found that of 216 new drugs issued globally between 2011 and 2017, only 54 were shown to be of major or considerable benefit. For most, there was no proof of added value.

The policy note’s author, Dr Bryce Wilkinson, pointed out that “Pharmac should not be criticised simply for being slow to determine which new medicines to fund, given this problem. Critics should instead acknowledge its responsibility to determine pharmaceutical efficacy and balance that against cost. Criticisms of its slowness may or may not be valid, but they are not valid unless put into this responsibility context.”

Why might most new drugs fail to provide real value? The policy note cites a US article that attributes it to a systematic lack of independent guidance for US GPs as to which new medicines are effective. Their prescribing is too much in the dark to eliminate drugs that do not provide value for money.


Read our policy point: Pharmac should not be criticised simply for being selective and slow about the medicines it funds here

Dr Bryce Wilkinson is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Dr Bryce Wilkinson, Senior Fellow
P: 027 445 5326

Amanda Boyd, Marketing & Communications Manager
P: 04 499 0790

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