To Annette King – we’ll hold you to that!






Right up until last week, National’s ‘spin’ on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was that it would not be permitted to impact on Pharmac or it’s ability to buy cheap, generic medicines.

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Four years ago;

We have laid down the fundamentals of a position which says our public health system is not up for negotiation, not part of any trade negotiation, and I can’t conceive of any New Zealand government that would change that view.

Pharmac is an incredibly valuable institution that provides high quality medicines to many New Zealanders at very, very highly subsidised, reasonable prices. The fundamentals of that model are not up for negotiation. ” – Tim Groser, 16 November 2011

Three years ago;

If the Government agreed completely with the demands of American pharmaceutical companies, the negotiation would probably be over. It is not. It is a long, complex negotiation, and the New Zealand Government’s position is to preserve the role and effectiveness of Pharmac. ” – Bill English, 6 December 2012

Two years ago;

I think it’ll have a very marginal impact, at the end of the day.  It certainly won’t result in higher prices for pharmaceutical products for New Zealanders.  This is really about protecting the model of Pharmac to ensure that they’re in a tough negotiating position with international pharmaceutical companies, and we’ve got some very good negotiators who are doing just that. ” – Tim Groser, 

Last year;

There will be no fundamental change in Pharmac’s operations as a result of the trade agreement.”

You’ll have to wait to see the final agreement but any decisions we take in terms of trade-offs will protect the essential public health system of this country.” – Tim Groser, 22 October 2014

And this year, only a week ago;

“…yes, I can guarantee that we’ve made it absolutely clear that we are not going to dismantle the fundamental of Pharmac. The provisions that guarantee affordable medicines – we don’t want to change the system of health we’ve got in our country so that people can get medicines only if they can afford it. We’ve got a very good system, and we’re not going to let any trade agreement interfere with that.” – Tim Groser, 25 July 2015

Barely three days later, there was this startling admission from our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key,  that all was not quite so ‘rosy’ in the Land of Free Trade Deals;

That means the Government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer. But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the Government may incur slightly more costs there.

Which vividly illustrates how, for the past four years, National has been lying to us, the New Zealand public.

It was only as TPPA negotiations drew to a close, that Key had to finally concede that there would be an impact on Pharmac and it’s ability to purchase low-cost generic medicines. The same TPPA will also impact on non-subsidised medicines purchased by New Zealanders, as not all attract subsidies by Pharmac.

On 29 July, Labour’s response was damning of the TPPA, and Health Spokesperson, Annette King stated matter-of factly;

Some people are going to pay with their lives because if they extend the patent, particularly on drugs for cancer and heart disease, and we can’t get access to the generic drugs for longer, then people are not going to get that access and they won’t have the opportunity to extend their lives.


“Some people are going to pay with their lives.” - Labour's Health Spokesperson, Annette King
“Some people are going to pay with their lives.” – Labour’s Health Spokesperson, Annette King


In which case, an incoming Labour Government has two options;

1. Raise taxes for those New Zealanders who voted National last year.

This is their responsibility, and should foot the bill for any increases to Pharmac’s purchasing budget. After all, National maintains itself as the “Party of Personal Responsibility“, so National voters should bear the costs of this mess; ie, ‘You voted for it, you pay for it’.

But since it is difficult to ascertain who voted for National last year, this option may not be practical.

2. Withdraw from the TPPA.

We simply cannot be party to an international trade agreement (or any other agreement for that matter) where “some people are going to pay with their lives”. That is simply untenable – especially for a Labourled government.

The seriousness of the TPPA’s effects on Pharmac (and non-subsidised medicines) is such that Labour must not be allowed to back-track on it’s criticisms, and has a duty to  withdraw from this appalling “trade” agreement.

If “some people are going to pay with their lives because … they extend the patent, particularly on drugs for cancer and heart disease”, then the TPPA must go. No New Zealander’s life is worth a “trade” agreement, no matter how much milk-powder we might sell overseas.

National ministers such as John Key, Tim Groser, Bill English, et al, have consistently, unashamedly, lied to us over the years. I do not expect Labour to follow in those footsteps.

This will be an issue I will be following, and I will be relentless in pursuing it, post-2017 (or earlier).





 TPPA action 8 august 2015


Wednesday, August 12
at 12:00pm
New Zealand Parliament Buildings
Friday, August 14
at 5:00pm
Palmerston North City Library
Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Midland Park, Lambton Quay
Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm

Saturday, August 15
at 11:00am
Kohukohu Village Green

Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
School of Dentistry, Great King Street, Dunedin (near the Museum)


References Pharmac fundamentals not on TPP table, Trade Minister Groser

Parliament: Hansards – 5. Trans-Pacific Partnership – Forecast Economic Benefits, Potential Effect on Pharmac, and Investor-State Dispute Provisions

Scoop media/TV1: Tim Groser adamant Trans-Pacific Partnership good for NZ

Radio NZ: Medicines ‘won’t cost more under TPP’

TV3: The Nation – Transcript – Trade Minister Tim Groser

Radio NZ:  TPP – Key admits medicine costs will rise

Radio NZ: Govt warned TPP could put lives at risk

National Party: About National

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Letter to the editor – More reassurances from our esteemed Dear Leader?


Facebook: Lunchtime rally against TPPA WELLINGTON

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA




Trust me fellow kiwis - John Key




= fs =


  1. Its not just todays drugs but those that may come from promising research into serious incurable conditions like Parkinsons, and many others. Will my husband be unable to access treatment which may assist him more than those currently available? That thought horrifies me.

  2. Snake Oil merchant Mr Key tells us, hey do not worry, the government will ensure that nobody will have to pay extra for medication, as it will be subsidised.

    FFS, we have had the government cut and slash all over the show for the last few years, to minimise or reduce costs in health care and other social services, would anybody believe the snake oil merchant one more time? Last they increased prescription charges from 3 to 5 dollars a piece. So they will of course look at that again a bit later.

    Would we honestly believe the government would subsidise medicine for years to come, never ending, to compensate for extra costs for the government? There was a news item on TVNZ a few days ago, saying that Pharmac is not passing on all subsidies for many medications, so pharmacists are forced to pick up the tab, up to millions or even billions a year. Some pharmacists cut their own margins to ensure that sick people get what they need now, same as some GPs offer consultations and treatments they do not charge for, where they realise the patient cannot afford to pay.

    So here we go, the government lying again, and passing it all on, for others to cover and pay.

    Key is the biggest liar as PM we have ever had, I fear.

  3. We can also add to this the revelation about SOE’s & governments being unable to maintain them in public ownership if it can be done by private companies, and the fact they cant nationalize a failed private model, if (when) it all goes belly-up.

  4. I’ll make it simple for you. National has 59 seats in parliament. Make those electorates pay. Why should other electorates pay for the TPP when there not represented by National.

  5. The future of our country is in prunes .

    Eat many prunes, and the next time you see jonky ? Pelt him with shit.

  6. I dont remember ever seeing an authentic opinion poll on the TPPA. If anyone else has, please share it with us. The absence of such a poll suggests that it is embarrassingly hostile to the government’s position. If that is true the Labour Party can win enormous support by simply saying that it will walk away from negotiations.
    Its a gift. So what is holding Andrew Little back? The fact that Labour is still a believer?

  7. Interesting point, Dennis. The only polls I could find were these two;



    The dairy sector seems to be growing it’s opposition to the TPPA;

    – which is a problem for the Nats, as farmers are core constituents for them.

    Let’s hope that Labour’s opposition to the TPPA firms up, and Little makes an unequivocal announcement that a Labour-led government would reject it.

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