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Information to be circulated on dispensing rules

1 September 2004

More information to be circulated on dispensing rules

People are to be provided with more information about the opportunity to collect all their medicine at once.

Since reintroducing all-at-once dispensing in October 2003, Government drug-funding agency PHARMAC has noticed that many people who ought to be collecting their medicines all-at-once are instead having to return to pharmacies to collect repeat dispensings.

PHARMAC Chief Executive Wayne McNee says this is less convenient for many people, and it also means savings for District Health Boards are not as great as anticipated.

“It is a confusing pattern because in some areas with a greater rural population, such as the West Coast and South Canterbury, more people are having to return to the pharmacy every month, which potentially is less convenient for them,” Wayne McNee says. “By contrast, in urban areas, mainly Auckland and Wellington, more people are taking advantage of all-at-once dispensing.”

“Overall, nationally about 80 percent of eligible prescriptions are being dispensed all-at-once. We think that if more people were aware of the options that are available, more people would obtain their prescriptions all at once.”

“So we will be looking at providing more information to people about the dispensing options that are available.”

Wayne McNee says DHBs may also look at more closely auditing prescribing patterns to determine why there are large variations between rural and urban areas, and even between individual pharmacies in the same location.

“Clinicians we have spoken to say they would expect a figure of less than five percent of dispensings being Close Control. In actual fact, the national average is four times this.”

PHARMAC recently completed consultation on whether to make changes to close control. After considering the responses, the PHARMAC Board has decided not to make any significant changes to the dispensing rules.


“The views expressed were that the rules as currently written are fine, but that some sort of adjustment period is usual when this sort of change occurs,” Wayne McNee adds.

“Rather than make changes to the rules, we think that providing further information, and perhaps trying to find some answers as to why there is so much regional variation, is the right way to go.”


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