Monday, November 09, 2009

Ryall refuses OIA request on Herceptin costs

The Otago Daily Times is reporting that Health Minister Tony Ryall has refused to disclose the cost of funding Herceptin as the information is apparently "not in the public interest":
In response to questions first raised by the Otago Daily Times on September 24, Health Minister Tony Ryall has now advised public interest in releasing the information about the cost of the breast cancer drug was considered, but it was determined this did not outweigh the reasons for withholding the information.

He cited a section of the Official Information Act as grounds for withholding the information, which referred to protecting information which was subject to an obligation of confidence.

That sounds like an appeal to Section 6 (b) of the OIA:
Conclusive reasons for withholding official information

Good reason for withholding official information exists, for the purpose of section 5, if the making available of that information would be likely—

(b) to prejudice the entrusting of information to the Government of New Zealand on a basis of confidence by—

(i) the Government of any other country or any agency of such a Government; or

any international organisation.
So Ryall is claiming that he can't release such politically sensitive information because of the commercial sensitivity of the Herceptin suppliers. The fact that the Herceptin exception flies in the face of the standard Pharmac model, a model created by the last National government, has nothing at all to do with it.

Keep digging ODT and good luck. The public deserve to be informed on the pricetag that this election promise is costing the health sector.