We play a pivotal legal role in the health sector in New Zealand.

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​​​Our experienced team has a complete understanding of the changing regulatory environment and legal issues faced by the New Zealand health sector.

Bell Gully is the principal legal services provider to PHARMAC, the Government agency set up to manage public expenditure on pharmaceuticals, and we advise on many aspects of its work. We have particular strengths in health funding and procurement, as well as the medicines system. We have completed significant procurement project work for several District Health Boards (DHBs) and other public sector health procurement agencies who procure on behalf of some or all DHBs.

The team assists our clients with service provision contracts, trade practice issues under the Commerce Act and other legislation, compliance programmes, medical issues, pharmaceutical concerns and privacy obligations under the Health Information Privacy Code. We also advise on financing, taxation, employment, reorganisation, asset transactions and joint ventures in the health sector.​

We advise Crown entities on their contracting with health providers, including primary health organisations, general practitioners (GPs), community laboratories, pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies, disability support services, and Māori service providers.

We have been involved in advising on key regulatory aspects of New Zealand's health system including developing and drafting sections of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act and advising on Human Rights Act implications of decision criteria for rationing health funding.

We advise private sector clients on how medicines regulation applies to them. This includes licensing, clinical trials, medicine and medical device approvals required by Medsafe, and medicine advertising requirements.

PHARMAC's principal legal advisor
Advise PHARMAC, the Government agency set up to manage expenditure on pharmaceuticals, as its principal legal advisor. We advise on many aspects of its work including its role in purchasing hospital pharmaceuticals and medical devices on behalf of all district health boards, purchasing strategies, tender processes and contracting, and matters concerning the release of official information that has been referred to the Ombudsman for investigation.

Assisted PHARMAC with the drafting of a provisional agreement with Novartis for the listing and funding of nine new medicines. This has been record-breaking in terms of being the highest number of new medicines funded from one single agreement. It has facilitated reduced costs and is widening access to medicines to an estimated 12,000 patients over five years.

District Health Boards (DHBs) laboratory services procurement
Advised seven DHBs on their laboratory services procurement processes relating to the market for blood testing, which accounts for NZ$300 million in government spending annually. These have been among the highest profile government procurement processes in the last decade. The contracts on which the team advised attracted significant media attention and Parliamentary debate. We also advised three DHBs on their joint laboratory services procurement. This involved a major service change as a result of the full outsourcing of hospital laboratory services, together with community laboratory services, to a single private sector provider.​

Judicial review of PHARMAC's Herceptin decision
Acted for PHARMAC in judicial reviews challenging its pharmaceutical funding decisions, including the 2008 proceedings challenging the funding decision regarding Herceptin​.

Judicial review of PHARMAC’s decision on asthma funding
Acted for PHARMAC on a judicial review initiated by AstraZeneca which challenging decisions made by PHARMAC regarding the funding of treatment for asthma. PHARMAC’s decisions impacted a large number of people and achieved cost savings of NZ$18.5 million for PHARMAC’s budget. PHARMAC was successful in these judicial review proceedings.

Community pharmacy services agreement
Advised DHB Shared Services (which acts on behalf of all 20 DHBs) on the procurement of community pharmacy services across the country. This has included advising on the new contractual arrangements introduced to drive a more patient-centric approach to the provision of community pharmacy services in New Zealand.

Health sector employment considerations
Acted for providers in the health sector on issues related to the application of Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act regarding the transfer of “vulnerable” workers. We have​ also advised clients on the application of the Code of Good Faith for Public Health Sector.

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  • Simon Watt

    Partner Wellington
  • Rachael Brown

    Partner Wellington