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PAI believes that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare and the freedom to make informed decisions about their health.  We are committed to promoting access to prescription medicines and empowering individuals to make choices that is best for them. We work to advocate for policies that supports medicine access and raise awareness about the issues New Zealand is facing. 

Media Release

Massive support across the political spectrum to keep prescriptions free for all: Talbot Mills poll

A new poll shows free prescriptions for all is "one of the most popular policies ever", even as the National Party plans to bring back prescription fees for most people.

The Talbot Mills Research poll released today found 86% of New Zealanders support keeping universal fees-free prescriptions, including most of the Coalition Government’s supporters: 76% of National voters, 75% of ACT voters, and 92% of New Zealand First voters.

Chart analysis


Pharmacists asking the new government for a rethink of bringing back prescription fees
One News

The Talbot Mills Research poll released today found 86% of New Zealanders support keeping universal fees-free prescriptions, including most of the Coalition Government’s supporters: 76% of National voters, 75% of ACT voters, and 92% of New Zealand First voters.

Click below to watch the clip.



Pharmacists dread to return to prescription co-payments

Community pharmacists say they're baffled by the government's decision to once again make pseudoephedrine an over-the-counter product as stipulated in the coalition agreement.

They say they're far more concerned about the expected return of prescription co-payments which they say will hurt patients.

Agreed to in the coalition agreement with the ACT party, pseudoephedrine, known as the cold and flu medication Sudafed, will be allowed to be sold over the counter.



Return of pseudoephedrine a ‘red herring’ says Waikato chemist
The Post

The promised return of cold and flu medications containing pseudoephedrine is being called a “red herring” by one Te Awamutu pharmacist.

Gemma Perry, the pharmacist and owner of Sanders Pharmacy in the Waikato town, says the inclusion in the National/ACT coalition agreement of a clause to reinstate pseudoephedrine medications for sale is low on chemists’ priority list.



Collective of pharmacists want National to keep free prescriptions

A collective of pharmacists wants National to backtrack on its policy to ditch free prescriptions while the cost living crisis persists.

National plans to reverse what it calls an untargeted subsidy, directing the savings of more than $300 million a year to fund 13 new cancer treatments instead.

Community service and gold card holders would still get free medications and for any other family or person, prescription fees would be capped at $100 per year.

Lanny Wong.jpeg


How fees-free prescriptions changed my patients’ lives for the better

At Sanders Pharmacy in Te Awamutu, Clive, aged 88, has been coming to us for 70 years. He’s been a patient at the pharmacy since it was founded in 1953 by pharmacist Bill Sanders, who described himself as “mad keen on helping people”.

We have a long history of looking after Clive. Our whole team has built relationships with him over decades. As a result, he says he has a “special spot” in his heart for me and my team.

This is what pharmacy is all about. Getting to know our patients and their needs. Helping them to understand their medical conditions and the often complex medicines they require. Supporting our patients to navigate the health system, with an increasing focus on preventative medicine.



In defence of free prescriptions

The National party campaigned on the idea of bringing back prescription charges for those who could afford them. By this they mean people who don’t have a Community Services Card or a Gold Card.

The idea that people who can afford their medicines should contribute to the cost is appealing, and makes sense in theory. The problems only become apparent when you start to think of the practicalities.

There is a significant risk the people who need free prescriptions the most – people who are marginalised and poor – will miss out because they don’t have a Community Services Card.


TVNZ Interview

Some pharmacists are urging the incoming government to rethink plans to scrap universal fee-free prescriptions
One News

The policy was introduced by the previous government as part of this year's budget, in an effort to ease the pressure of the cost of living crisis.


Now that National is set to lead, the policy will likely be scrapped in favour of a targeted approach, meaning the $5 fee will come back for most.


In the five months since the policy was introduced, community pharmacists say they have seen improved health outcomes among their patients.



Report finds prescription fees have negative impact on health

A report out Monday morning says bringing back fees for pharmacy prescriptions will reverse improved healthcare.

The survey found two-thirds of community pharmacies built patient numbers between July and October and pharmacists were able to help more with frontline care.

The Labour government scrapped the standard $5 co-pay fee for prescriptions in July.

But the incoming National Party leadership has said it will reintroduce prescription fees for adults, except those who hold a Community Services Card or a SuperGold card.

Rotorua-based pharmacist and spokesperson for the Prescription Access Initiative Charlotte Schimanski spoke to Corin Dann.

And a response from Prime Minister Chris Luxton



Pharmacists urge new government to keep free prescriptions
The Post

Pharmacists are urging the incoming government to abandon a promise to reinstate prescription fees or risk returning to the days of patients choosing which medications they can afford.



Pharmacists keen to keep big business out of pharmacies

Pharmacists want a National-led Government to keep pharmacies out of the hands of "big business".

The Independent Community Pharmacy Group (ICPG) and the Prescription Access Initiative (PAI) have been canvassing the top seven polling parties to find out which one's will keep the current ownership regulations in place.

The National Party's health spokesperson Dr. Shane Reti appears to have dodged the question and simply wrote back saying "the National party supports timely access to quality health care for all New Zealanders".

Gemma Perry 1 supplied.jpg

Media Release

Concern National is not ruling out changes to pharmacy ownership rules
Parmacy Today

The Prescription Access Initiative and the Independent Community Pharmacy Group are worried pharmacy ownership will be opened up to big business if there is a change of government next month.

Under the current rules, pharmacies must be majority owned by a pharmacists, who must have effective control of the company. A pharmacist also may only have the majority shareholding in up to five pharmacies.

Clive Cannons 2022-2.jpg

Media Release

Community pharmacists disappointed at being ‘a political football’ over prescription payments
The Press

Pharmacists say they have become a political football, worried about the future of free prescriptions and struggling against big business models.

May’s Budget scrapped the $5 co-payment for prescriptions, expected to cost $618 million over four years.

National came out against the plan, pledging to return the co-payment up to $100 a year, and target free prescriptions, meaning SuperGold and Community Service Card (CSC) holders would still have free prescriptions.



Big Gain from Small Change
The Post Sunday

In a Budget pitched as an exercise in low expectations, the dropping of a small prescription charge was a stand-out. The fact it was merely a $5 saving appeared to signal this was not even a bread and butter Budget, but a breadcrumbs Budget, as Newshub's witty political reporter puts it.



The Panel with Chris Wikaira and Catherine Robertson (Part 1)

Today on The Panel, Wallace and panellists Chris Wikaira and Catherine Robertson reflect on yesterday's Budget announcement, namely the $618.6 million allocated to scrap $5 co-payments for prescriptions and the increase on the trustee tax rate.



The Hoon for Friday 19th May 2023
The Hoon

Mangawhai Pharmacist Lanny Wong  from the Independent Community Pharmacy Group on the decision in Budget 2023 to remove the $5 prescription fee for all. With Bernard Hickey.


Media Release

Budget 2023: Prime Minister Chris Hipkins takes jab at National's changing position on prescription fee

The Prime Minister has taken a jab at the National Party's changing position on the $5 prescription fee.

National leader Christopher Luxon on Friday morning clarified his party's stance on the Budget 2023 announcement that the $5 co-payment on prescription medicine would be removed from July.


Media Release

Budget 2023: Christopher Luxon clarifies National's stance on $5 prescription fee

National leader Christopher Luxon has clarified his party's stance on the Government's decision to abolish the $5 prescription co-payment in Budget 2023.

Following the announcement from the Government on Thursday, National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis was reported as saying her party would repeal the removal of the $5 charge - arguing it was a "nice to have" and it would subsidise wealthy people.


Media Release

‘There are tears across New Zealand today’: Pharmacists react to scrapping of prescription fee
Pharmacy Today

Pharmacists around New Zealand are ecstatic that the $5 prescription fee has been removed in the 2023 Budget.

Today’s announcement came as a surprise to many. As recently as 2 May, health minister Ayesha Verrall was saying there were no plans to remove it.

Gemma Perry 1 supplied.jpg

Radio Interview

Vicky Chan: Prescription Access Initiative spokesperson says decision to scrap $5 prescription fee 'no-brainer'
iHeart Radio

Delight at the Government's decision to scrap the $5 prescription fee.

The move, which kicks in from July, will cost nearly $620 million.

Prescription Access Initiative spokesperson Vicky Chan says it's a no brainer.

"It is obvious that the $5 prescription payment has been a barrier for a lot of our patients and the communities out there, so we obviously welcome this fantastic move in the Budget."

Extra funding has also been allocated to boost health workforce pay, reduce waiting lists and lift immunisation rates.


Media Release

Removing Prescription Fee In Budget "The Obvious Thing To Do": Pharmacists

Hopes are high the Government will include the removal of the "patient co-payment" prescription fee in this week’s Budget, says Prescription Access Initiative (PAI) pharmacists, after politicians on both sides of the House publicly supported the fee removal earlier this month.


"The many reasons to urgently remove the fee are compelling," said PAI spokesperson Vicky Chan. Research shows removing the fee of $5 per item would reduce hospitalisations in the over-stretched health system; increase well-being, equity and productivity by lowering illness, pain and related work absences; support the survival of vital community pharmacy services; and ease the cost-of-living crisis for everyone.

Flexible Payment Planning

Radio Interview

Too many patients can't afford prescriptions: With Vicky Chan and Professor Pauline Norris
Radio NZ Nine to Noon

Patients around the country are routinely not taking prescribed medication for serious medical conditions - because they cannot afford the five dollar co-payment prescription fee.

That's according to a new survey of 150 community pharmacists around New Zealand, just released.

Prescriptions cost $5 per item up to $100 per year per family, for people aged 14 and over. But the survey finds that many patients cannot afford to pick up their medication, contributing to even more serious health issues including stroke, heart attack, sight loss, failed kidneys, breathing problems, mental health crises, and amputations.


TVNZ Interview

Pharmacists call for 'inhumane' prescription fees to be scrapped

Pharmacist Lanny Wong told Breakfast that the fee meant patients had to choose between eating and taking medicines — which could leave them worse off later on.

"I've watched many patients who have cherry-picked their medicine because they just can't afford it," she said. "We have mental health patients who are on antidepressants and sleeping tablets. They will go for the sleeping tablet and not the antidepressant."


Media Release

Community pharmacists call for end to 'devastating' prescription fee

“Devastating” prescription fees in Aotearoa New Zealand could be leading to dangerous outcomes for patients, community pharmacists have said.

In a new report published today, pharmacists claim the fees, which are typically $5 per item, are enough to stop people getting the medication they need, and called for an end to the fee.



'It's medicine or food. We can't afford both'
The Kākā by Bernard Hickey

Survey of pharmacists finds $5 co-payment fee up to $100/year needlessly leading to mental health incidents, diabetes, amputations and strokes; Pharmacists call for it to be dropped permanently


Radio Interview

Removing Prescription Fees w/ Community Pharmacy Owner Gemma Perry: 1 May, 2023

A new survey of 150 community pharmacists in Aotearoa has found that government prescription fees contribute to serious health issues and cause significant community distress.

News and Editorial Director Jessica Hopkins spoke to Gemma Perry, a Community Pharmacy owner in Te Awamutu.


Politician Commentary

TVNZ Breakfast Politician Panel 1 May 2023

Brooke van Velden on TVNZ Breakfast 1 May 2023: "I actually believe we should get rid of the Pharmacy co-payment and it’s for this reason: we’ve got local pharmacies who are struggling, they struggled through covid, they were our cornershop during the pandemic, but they are in competition now with people who are using pharmacy co-payments as a loss leader. There are other chains that aren’t passing on that cost because they’re taking it up with other things that they’re selling in store. That’s pretty anti-competitive and it means that a family who might be struggling to pay for that co-payment are going to a particular store because another pharmacy is still needing to charge for that $5 co-payment. So I think just to have an even playing field for all families and also for pharmacies – it’s actually a good move to have the same fair rules for everyone."


Media Release

Government Prescription Fees Lead To Amputations, Heart Attacks: Pharmacist Survey

An "inhumane" government prescription fee contributes to serious health issues including stroke, heart attack, sight loss, failed kidneys, breathing problems, mental health crises, and amputations, according to a new survey of 150 community pharmacists around New Zealand.


Media Release

Government prescription fees lead to amputations, heart attacks: pharmacist survey

An "inhumane" government prescription fee contributes to serious health issues including stroke, heart attack, sight loss, failed kidneys, breathing problems, mental health crises, and amputations, according to a new survey of 150 community pharmacists around New Zealand.

Interior of Pharmacy

Media Release

MIL-OSI New Zealand: Health Sector Research – Government prescription fees lead to amputations, heart attacks: pharmacist survey
Foreign Affairs

“The government prescription fee is causing widespread distress in our communities, and it needs to be removed immediately,” says Vicky Chan of the Prescription Access Initiative, a group of pharmacists who co-organised the survey in March. “It is outrageous the government is imposing a preventable and heavy burden on people’s wellbeing, and on the health system.”

Green pharmacy sign

Media Release

New pharmacy group comes out swinging over $5 prescription copayment
NZ Doctor / Pharmacy Today

The newly formed Prescription Access Initiative group is calling on the Government to scrap the prescription copayment, saying evidence proves it fuels medication non-adherence and patient harm. Pharmacy Today senior journalist Paulette Crowley reports

Gemma Perry 1 supplied.jpg


Petition of Nikki Turner on behalf of United Community Action Network: Removing prescription charges for Community Service Card holders

PAI was invited to make a submission for Dr Nikki Turner's petition on removing prescription charges for community service card holders.

Nikki Turner.jpg

Media Release

Prescription-fee waiver proves benefits of removing $5 charge
Pharmacy Today

Pharmacists in cyclone affected areas where the $5 prescription charge was temporarily waived following Cyclone Gabrielle, believe that removing the fee will help eliminate barriers and reduce shame and embarrassment to people missing out on food to pay for medicine.


Media Release

Calls To Extend Free Prescriptions Relief For Cyclone-affected Areas Beyond Next Week

Community pharmacists and health workers are urging for the extension of fees-free prescriptions beyond the 19 March deadline, as they have seen a boost in access to medicines in cyclone-affected areas.

Tropical Storm
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