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Disappointed by PHARMAC’s dispensing decision

Media Release 10 July 2003

The Pharmaceutical Society is very disappointed by PHARMAC’s decision to adopt bulk dispensing.

Pharmaceutical Society Chief Executive and Registrar Joan Baas said the Society fears that one of the outcomes of this move is that many people will lose access to their local pharmacy.

Large areas of rural and provincial New Zealand were at real risk of losing their pharmacy, she said.

“Some of our members are already struggling to survive – this will inevitably close some pharmacies. The public will be the losers from this.”

Dr Baas said that, while PHARMAC appeared to be making some effort to cater for high need, high risk users, this move still posed serious risks to such patients. She said the pharmacist currently played a valuable role in advice and support for such patients but Pharmac’s decision will discourage that.

The Society also believed this decision carried serious safety risks for the community with the inevitable stockpiling of medicines in people’s homes.

“Pharmac seems to be trying to dismiss the increased risk of poisoning posed by having large quantities of medicines in homes but commonsense and practical reality tells us this is unrealistic and shortsighted,” said Dr Baas.

“Equally serious, is the prospect of large quantities of prescription medicines posing security risks in homes, particularly in the homes of elderly people. Home invasions are already a serious threat to this very vulnerable group in our community. This will just encourage break-ins,” said Dr Baas.

Dr Baas says Pharmac has taken a cavalier approach to the issue of wastage by reverting to three-month dispensing.

“ This policy will generate more wastage of medicines. We know we will end up seeing expensive “dump” campaigns as a consequence.”

The Society fears that, despite the short term savings projected by PHARMAC, there will be long-term costs which will emerge from this decision.

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand is the statutory body protecting the public interest in the public’s dealing with pharmacists. All pharmacists are members of the Society.


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