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Potential Pitfall Of Drug Company Free Supply

Patients Warned Of Potential Pitfall Of Drug Company Free Supply

PHARMAC is reminding drug companies that it is unethical to pull the plug on providing patients with drugs free of charge, once the patients have started on the treatment.

Chief Executive Wayne McNee says despite repeated reminders to companies that there are clear ethical guidelines surrounding free supply, it appears that they are not being taken on board.

Wayne McNee cites the latest example where drug company Novartis has indicated that it may cut off its free supply of the leukaemia drug Glivec to the group of 30 New Zealanders it has been providing the new drug to.

He says this attitude is disappointing, and he labels it as a marketing exercise to increase pressure on getting PHARMAC to fund the drug. There are no guarantees that once the drug company stops supplying the drug the Government will subsidise it.

Wayne McNee says if a drug company starts a patient on a drug there is an ethical responsibility to continue them on it. This ethical guideline surrounding free supply of drugs has been made clear by PHARMAC since 1994.

“It is perfectly understandable for patients, who are often vulnerable, to say yes when offered drugs free of charge. However we can imagine the heartbreak when they are told the company won’t continue to give it to them for free. If a drug company offers it in the first place they should live up to their moral responsibility of continuing to supply it.”

He says every application for funding is treated exactly the same and is assessed against transparent criteria. PHARMAC must also make its decisions based on meeting the health needs of all New Zealanders.

[ends]

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