"It is tragic and a national disgrace that at a time when Pharmac can't find funding for sufferers of breast cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and other serious problems, that they can find funding to subsidise flavoured condoms," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.
"This is not a health and safety issue. It's not about preventing unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. This is simply about funding sexual behaviour that shouldn't be at the cost of the taxpayer or other more life-threatening medication."
"Is Pharmac going to consider subsidising sex toys next?"
Just last year, Auckland cardiologist Dr Chris Ellis has accused Pharmac of policies which have unduly restricted access to appropriate heart drugs. The Cancer Society has attacked Pharmac for preventing New Zealanders getting appropriate access to medicines such as the breast cancer drug Herceptin that are regarded as essential overseas.
And Allergy New Zealand chief executive Penny Jorgensen said Pharmac should fund EpiPens for all of the estimated 20,000 people at risk of severe allergic reactions to foods - the majority - or insect stings due to the possibility of anaphylactic shock - a severe, life-threatening reaction. Pharmac's medical director, Dr Peter Moodie, said it had decided against funding EpiPens partly because of their cost.
"Yet Pharmac can find funding for strawberry flavoured condoms," says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First is calling on the government to reverse this spending decision, and to re-prioritise Pharmac's spending so that drugs are more readily available for genuine life-threatening illnesses.