National

'Budgets are limited' - Health Minister responds to calls for Trikafta funding

There is an issue of unfunded medicines in this country. 

This government didn't cause the problem, it was certainly an issue under John Key's government too. But, the issue is growing. 

Right now, there are 78 medicines or pharmaceuticals on what is called the 'options for investment' but is essentially a waiting list.

They're drugs that treat everything from Crohn's disease to allergies, to a myriad of cancers and rare disorders like Cystic Fibrosis and multiple sclerosis 

Trikafta is currently in the headlights. It's an expensive drug, but it's a game-changer for people with Cystic Fibrosis. 

But, the minister in charge of funding Pharmac is defending the current situation in which the drug is not funded. 

Health Minister Andrew Little told First Light's Rachel Smalley, funding decisions are not always easy.

"Of course, you would like everything funded that you put in a bid for. The reality is, governments don't have a bottomless pit of money, budgets are limited."

Pharmac director of operations, Lisa Williams told Smalley, it has to make tough decisions.

"There will always be more medicines than we can afford to fund. That's Pharmac's job, that we have to make those kinds of choices."

Williams says she is aware of the life-changing properties of the Trikafta drug and wants to see it funded.

"It treats the cause of the disease as opposed to the symptoms, and so that is an amazing change in treatment for Cystic Fibrosis."

Willaims says negotiations to get the drug funded are ongoing.