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GP prescribing gives easier access to two drugs

15 August 2005

GP prescribing gives easier access to two drugs

People will be able to have easier access to two more drugs from 1 September.

Changes to access criteria by drug funding agency PHARMAC will see the antidepressant venlafaxine (Efexor XR) and the anti-fungal treatment terbinafine (Lamisil) able to be prescribed by general practitioners.

Currently venlafaxine must be prescribed by a psychiatrist while terbinafine prescriptions have to come from a specialist, such as a dermatologist.

The steps are the latest in giving patients easier access to funded medicines.

PHARMAC Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says that giving general practitioners the ability to prescribe both venlafaxine and terbinafine will effectively speed up the process of patients gaining access to them.

"In some areas of New Zealand it can be difficult to find a suitably qualified psychiatrist to prescribe venlafaxine. For patients in these areas, being able to have a vocationally-registered GP prescribe the drug will enable them to access it more quickly," Dr Moodie says.

Venlafaxine will continue to be targeted to patients with severe depression, but improving access will enable them to have more rapid access to an important treatment option, Dr Moodie adds.

The changes are the latest steps PHARMAC is taking to make it easier for patients to have easier access to subisided medicines, and to reduce paperwork for doctors. Earlier this month PHARMAC announced changes in access to the cholesterol-lowering statin atorvastatin (Lipitor) and treatments for glaucoma (bimatoprost lantanoprost and travoprost).

ENDS

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