1492566394635 - Pharmac rejects funding bid for sanitary items saying they are ‘not medicines or medical devices’

Pharmac rejects funding bid for sanitary items saying they are ‘not medicines or medical devices’

Pharmac will not help pay for tampons and pads, following a request earlier in the year for funding for all women’s sanitary items.

The Government drug-buying agency rejected the request on the grounds it was too broad and did not provide enough information to make its case, according to RNZ.

Pharmac announced in February that a funding application for the sanitary items was received in late 2016, from a private citizen.

It first had to consider whether hygiene products fell under its funding powers.

READ MORE: * Pharmac to consider funding tampons and pads * Periods aren’t embarrassing, the cost of hygiene products is * Period costs prohibitive for girls, as new donation drive launched

Pharmac found, by law, it can only fund medicines and medical devices or products which provide “therapeutic benefits relating to a health need,” RNZ reported.

“In Pharmac’s view, sanitary products are not medicines or medical devices,” Pharmac said in a statement.

The application “does not show a link to therapeutic benefits related to a health need,” and therefore doesn’t fall within Pharmac’s scope, Sarah Fitt, Pharmac’s director of operations said.

Menstruation was considered a normal bodily function, the agency said.

However if applications were made for specific menstrual conditions, “where there is evidence of specific health needs,” these could be considered in future, Fitt said.

IF THEY’RE UNAFFORDABLE IT’S A HEALTH RISK: PETITIONER

Jody Hopkinson started an online petition in February for tampons and pads to be funded to make them more accessible to people in need.

“The fact that sanitary items are unaffordable for some people is a health risk,” she wrote on the forum, following news of the rejected application.

“Those of us who cannot afford the products are at risk of contracting serious infections because of having to reuse sanitary pads and tampons.

“We are continuing this campaign to ask Pharmac to reconsider its decision, especially for people who have specific health conditions, such as endometriosis and menorrhagia.”

A seperate online petition on Change.org to remove the tax on sanitary items last year received more than 3000 signatures.

In line with other goods and services in New Zealand, sanitary products are taxed at 15 per cent via GST.

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