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Confusion? Pharmac Proposal Will Puzzle Patients


17 April 2003


The Pharmacy Guild says Pharmac's claim that its plan to return to bulk dispensing of prescription medicines will mean "most people will be able to collect three months worth of medicine in one visit" is misleading, and will result in confusion, particularly for older patients.

Guild President, Richard Heslop, said the public needed to be aware that many patients would not be able to pick up all their medicines in one go, and that this was conceded in Pharmac's more detailed consultation documents

"Pharmac's media release does not make this clear however, and is designed to give the impression that most people will be able to get all their prescription medicines by making one visit to their pharmacy. Older New Zealanders, who are typically on a wider range of medicines, should ask their pharmacist just what the new regime would mean for them."

Mr Heslop said there was no argument that three month dispensing was appropriate for some people with stable chronic conditions, or those who had difficulties accessing pharmacies more frequently.

"There is a lot of flexibility built into the present system to allow three monthly dispensing for a wide range of reasons. This is just about Pharmac withdrawing a huge amount of Government funding from the community pharmacy sector under the guise of greater convenience to patients. If over 250 pharmacies close and the rest reduce staff and services to match the drop in funding, will that be convenient to the patients those pharmacies serve?"

He said the Pharmac proposal only affected 70% of dispensings, or around half of the medicines on the Pharmaceutical Schedule. This meant that many patients would only be able to pick up some of their medicines in one go, and would have to return for repeat dispensings of the others just as they did now.

"Guess who will bear the brunt of confused and angry patients who have been given the clear impression that they will be able to get everything at once? We don't deserve that, and neither do our patients. While older New Zealanders on multiple medicines will be most affected, others, for example those who might need a range of inhalers for asthmatic conditions, will find that they can get one type of inhaler three monthly but that others will still have to be collected monthly."

Mr Heslop said the Pharmacy Guild had produced tables showing the actual medicines currently dispensed to three unidentified older New Zealanders. The tables provide a graphic demonstration of what would be able to be dispensed three monthly under the Pharmac proposal, and what would still have to be dispensed monthly or within other variations. It also showed the huge quantities of medicines that patients would be required to take home, with all that implied in terms of wastage and increased potential for criminal interest and child poisonings.

Older New Zealanders' Medicines

Examples of confusion / quantities

Example A: Mrs K

Medicine Dose/day 10 days 30 days 90 days Unknown Premium Product

Kapanol 4 capsules ¡î

Lipitor 1 tablet ¡î

Corangin 1 tablet ¡î

Persantin 2 capsules ¡î ¡î

Losec 2 capsules ¡î

Paracetamol Up to 8 tablets ¡î

Cilazapril 1 tablet ¡î

Thyroxine 1 tablet ¡î

Pulmicort 4 puffs ¡î

Bricanyl prn ¡î

Nitrolingual prn ¡î

Normacol 30g ¡î ¡î


On collecting an original prescription Mrs K will have:

10 days supply of 1 medicine

30 days supply for 3 medicines

90 days supply for 8 medicines

On collecting an original prescription Mrs K will be expected to take away

1300 tablets/capsules

5 inhalers

3 sprays

3 kg of laxatives

Example B: Mrs S

Medicine Dose/day 10 days 30 days 90 days Unknown Premium Product

Enahexal 2 tablets ¡î

Celol 1 tablet ¡î

Potassium chloride 2 tablets ¡î

Thyroxine 1 tablet ¡î

Allopurinol 1 tablet ¡î

Frusemide 2 tablets ¡î

Lipitor 1 tablet ¡î

Marevan 3 tablets ¡î

Digoxin 3 tablets ¡î

Losec 2 capsules ¡î

Osteo 1 tablet ¡î

Isogel 15g ¡î ¡î


On collecting an original prescription Mrs S will have:

30 days supply for 2 medicines

90 days supply for 10 medicines

On collecting an original prescription Mrs S will be expected to take away

1530 tablets/capsules

1.35kg of laxatives

Example: Mr A

Medicine Dose/day 10 days 30 days 90 days Unknown Premium Product

Paracetamol 8 tablets ¡î

Inhibace 1 tablet ¡î

Laxsol 1 tablet ¡î

Betaloc 1 tablet ¡î

Aqueous Cream prn ¡î

Persantin 2 capsules ¡î ¡î

Losec 1 capsule ¡î

Vitamin B Complex 1 tablet ¡î

Isosorbide Mononitrate ¨ö tablet ¡î

Frusemide 3 tablets ¡î

Spironolactone ¨ö tablet ¡î

Allopurinol 1 tablet ¡î

Bezalip 1 tablet ¡î


On collecting an original prescription Mr A will have:

30 days supply for 1 medicine

90 days supply for 12 medicines

On collecting an original prescription Mr A will be expected to take away

1830 tablets/capsules

1.5 kg of cream


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