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PHARMAC’s claims of success misleading

14 May 2004

News Release

PHARMAC’s claims of asthma campaign success misleading DTC advertising catalyst for biggest dose reductions

Auckland May 14, 2003

New Zealand’s biggest supplier of asthma medications, GlaxoSmithKline is intrigued PHARMAC has come on board to help reduce doses of inhaled corticosteroid used in asthma. PHARMAC’s move comes after the biggest recent dose reduction, which was stimulated by Direct-To-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of asthma medicines and the pro-active actions of GPs and patients.

GlaxoSmithKline Medical Director Dr Ian Griffiths says DTCA has been the single biggest catalyst for the positive changes despite opposition by PHARMAC to this informational tool. “Any reduction in average dose of inhaled corticosteroid should be attributed to good medical practice, patient motivation, responsible advertising and increased use of other therapies.

“GSK believes a contributing factor to historical high dosing was a PHARMAC funding policy forcing many patients to use doses in excess of manufacturer recommendations before being allowed to access other therapies. We are delighted to see PHARMAC are accepting responsibility for this problem.

“The biggest and most dramatic reduction in average inhaled corticosteroid dose came when GSK advertised the discontinuation of its beclomethasone inhalers and suggested patients consult their doctor about alternatives. This motivated patients to see their doctors and sparked the sharpest decline in dosing seen in recent years as doctors proactively addressed high dosing problems.

“GSK believes PHARMAC’s limited budget could be more effectively used to fund more medicines and reduce funding restrictions rather than developing costly campaigns to influence doctors’ prescribing behaviour,” says Dr Griffiths.

ENDS

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