The PHARMAC series
The Pharmaceutical Management Agency’s (PHARMAC) primary function is to manage the national pharmaceutical schedule. Decisions on subsidy levels and prescribing guidelines are undertaken by PHARMAC with input from independent medical experts on the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) and its specialist sub-committees. Since its inception there have been concerns about the strategies employed by PHARMAC, and the negative impact that may have resulted, in terms of provision of pharmceuticals for health care. To consider these issues the MRINZ coordinated and edited a series of articles on PHARMAC, which were published in the New Zealand Medical Journal. In total there were twenty articles written by prominent specialists throughout New Zealand, who examined in detail the strengths and weaknesses of PHARMAC, using a case based approach. PHARMAC contributed to the series by writing one of the articles and by responding to all the other articles. This series has been widely acclaimed as an authoritative academic review of PHARMAC, and has contributed to the government decision to review its operation.