So, how do we close The Medicine Gap?

There are two important first steps…



Smash The Waitlist – the Government must allocate another $400m this year to Pharmac so our doctors can immediately access some of the 73 prioritised modern medicines on the waitlist.


There is irrefutable evidence that Pharmac, our drug-buying agency, has been chronically underfunded for years by successive governments. Some industry bodies estimate it would require over a billion dollars to get us back to 2007 levels. We need to start somewhere. That’s where the $400m this year comes in.

The waiting list to fund prioritised modern medicines (which are MedSafe approved and recommended for funding by Pharmac’s own clinical advisory panel) is getting longer.

The average time an approved medicine remains on the waitlist in New Zealand is 4.7 years. It is no exaggeration to say that New Zealanders are dying waiting for modern medicines.

New Zealand now sits at the bottom of the developed world for per-capita spend on modern medicines. Countries like Mexico, Colombia, Latvia and Belarus are ahead of us when it comes to accessing some of the breakthrough modern medicines to treat many of the world’s cruelest diseases.

The Government says ‘it can’t fund everything’ which is true. However, in the case of some of our chronic conditions, ten long years has passed and New Zealand hasn’t funded ‘anything’. The solution is simple. It comes down to money. Give Pharmac the initial $400m it needs this year to start addressing the waitlist and help kiwis live.

Let’s Smash The Waitlist.



Get Organised – the Government must develop a Medicine Strategy to outline how New Zealand will respond to rapid developments in modern medicine and greatly improve health outcomes for all Kiwis.

#getorganised #helpKiwislive

New Zealand doesn’t have a plan. There is no Medicines Strategy in place, the Ministry of Health doesn’t provide Pharmac with a strategic framework to support its funding decisions, nor has it applied any thinking to how we will respond to rapid developments in modern medicines.

On all of these issues, New Zealand is standing flat-footed and looking backwards. It means we are years behind the developed world in considering how we will incorporate emerging developments in medical science into our health system.

How can this be? No thinking. No foresight offered. No ‘horizon-scanning’. No consideration given to how all of this will impact the Government’s future funding decisions.

It’s time to own it. The Government is accountable. New Zealand needs First World access to modern medicines and technologies.


Make A Flippin’ Plan.

Supporters of this Initiative

The Medicine Gap was created by a group of concerned New Zealanders who believe the Government must address this country’s escalating medicines crisis.

It aims to provide a collective voice to the thousands of sick and vulnerable New Zealanders who can’t afford life-transforming or life-saving drugs to live.

Our supporters have paid for our website, a bit of creative thinking, some social media advertising, a photographer, a lawyer, and a few travel costs. And we’re also grateful to a shedload of people who do a lot of work for us for free. You rock.

Just so you know, The Medicine Gap hasn’t engaged with or been funded by any pharmaceutical or health insurance company. Nada. Zero. Don’t even go there. That would just be dumb.

Political affiliation? Nope. None of that either. The Medicine Gap is not affiliated with any politician or political party. Not one.

And how long is our campaign here for? Well, we’re here for as long as it takes.


Who's Behind This?

Rachel Smalley

Rachel Smalley is a journalist and strategic communications consultant, and the founder of The Medicine Gap.

Like many of her friends, Rachel has donated to Givealittle campaigns over the years, helping to raise money for modern medicines which aren’t funded in New Zealand.

However, the scale of New Zealand’s unfunded medicines crisis is now so great, it outstrips what any fundraising campaign can hope to achieve.

“Givealittle has become a mechanism for survival. Think about that for a moment. How is it that thousands of kiwis are forced to rely on charity to live?”

The Medicine Gap provides a platform for thousands of sick and vulnerable New Zealanders who need access to modern, life-transforming or life-saving drugs to live.

“In order to fix this issue, we need courageous leadership and a willingness to accept that the current system is failing New Zealanders.”

Jo Currie

Jo Currie is a self-taught photographer. She’s travelled into some of the world’s most challenging environments to report on humanitarian emergencies

In 2015-2016, Jo and Rachel worked together in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraqi-Kurdistan, Serbia and Hungary, reporting on the Syrian Refugee Crisis for a World Vision campaign.

Jo is the photographer on The Medicine Gap, working with our brave voices to capture them in moments of strength. At times, as people speak about their diagnosis and the challenges they’ve faced, they’ve become upset. On each of these occasions, Jo has put down her camera.

“I’m not photographing people when they’re crying. I can’t do that.”

Jo isn’t always so principled.

“I always tell people they can swear, though. I’m not adverse to a bit of bad language.”

Fiona Tolich and Malcolm Mulholland – Patient Voice Aotearoa

Fiona and Malcolm represent a collective of patients, caregivers, whanau, advocates and charitable organisations who campaign strongly for the rights of New Zealand patients.

They are two of this country’s leading voices when it comes to driving change and increasing funding for modern medicines.

“It’s really important to us that New Zealanders hear these very human stories,” says Malcolm.

Fiona’s not so sure about the name, though. “I reckon it’s more of a Medicine Gulf than a Medicine Gap,” she quips.