The Government has announced the combined pharmaceutical budget for 2011/12 will be $777.4 million – up from $710 million this year.
Health Minister Tony Ryall says part of this increase is made up of $20 million of new money the National Government has added to medicine spending.
"An estimated average 180 thousand extra patients have benefited every year from the Government's $180 million funding boost for medicines, since we took office."
"In the past two and a half years, Pharmac has been able to fund 52 new medicines and increase access to another 51 medicines – which means more patients are benefiting from community medicines and cancer treatments," says Mr Ryall.
The boost in spending means this year, new innovative medicines will be available like treatment for multiple bone marrow cancer and a new anti blood - clotting drug which Pharmac describes as a 'game changer'.
The extra funding has also purchased new drugs for lung cancer, liver cancer, the first subsidised medicine for Alzheimer's disease and drugs to help people quit smoking.
And it has widened access to a drug for Crohn's disease, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and severe psoriasis.
Mr Ryall says, "This is an example of the sort of investment that is possible when the Government commits more money to medicines. This commitment to medicines funding is made at a time of significant challenges to Government spending."
The 2011/12 pharmaceutical budget also includes a transfer of $47.4 million from District Health Boards to PHARMAC to meet the cost of cancer drugs.
"Until now, cancer drugs have been funded separately by DHBs and they will now all be managed by PHARMAC within one funding envelope. This gives PHARMAC greater scope to make use of its negotiating skills and maximise public investment," says Mr Ryall.