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Pharmac decision exposes families to risk

Pharmac decision exposes families to risk and enrages Parents Centre

16 July 2003

Parents Centre is enraged that Pharmac has failed to recognise the interests of local communities in its decision to return to three-monthly dispensing for 71% of prescription pharmaceuticals.

"This move flies in the face of community need and good sense," said Parents Centre CEO, Viv Gurrey. "Pharmacists are the health professional most parents see more often than any other, they provide important advice and information on dispensing issues and family care."

"Maintaining regular contact and good relationships with local pharmacists often happens when collecting prescription medicines. Monthly collections provide an informal and thoroughly useful opportunity to assess dosage and dispensing concerns, including abuse and confusion. Yet despite this, Pharmac has ignored grass root realities and opted for short-term cash-saving"

"You don't have to gaze into a crystal ball to see how this policy will impact on local communities," said Mrs Gurrey "Short term tactics continue to over-ride good sense community based strategy. The basic fabric of community is being eroded from post offices, banks, and now pharmacies - the exodus continues."

"Not only will there be reduced contact with local pharmacists, it is highly likely this policy will lead to the closure of many local pharmacies which will no longer be viable under the three-monthly regime. When that happens - everyone misses out," Mrs Gurrey said.

"In addition, three months worth of part charges are a significant cost, which will be an additional financial burden for low-income families. If a lump sum cannot be paid people may let their prescriptions lapse," said Mrs Gurrey.

"And there is the matter of stockpiling; which poses serious risk. A three-month supply of drugs increases the risk of accidental overdose, particularly for children - who are attracted by the colour and shape of medicines and pills.

"Care for children within the extended family is on the increase - generally with grandparents - this in itself will pose a safety issue for parents with the propensity for toddlers to access medicine cabinets. These are very real concerns, which Pharmac has overlooked in its quest for financial expediency," Mrs Gurrey added.

Parents Centre was one of more than 2500 organisations and individuals who made a submission on this issue.

"A vast majority of those submissions sought to retain one monthly dispensing arrangements. So why even ask for submissions if there is no intention of paying heed to them. This is democracy only in name," she added.

Contact: Viv Gurrey Ph: 04 560-1990 or 027 237 9029

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