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New Approach To Managing Medicine Needed

29 October, 2004

New Approach To Managing Medicine Needed

The Pharmacy Guild said today that Pharmac needed to adopt a new approach to managing medicines in New Zealand.

Guild President Richard Heslop says Pharmac must improve its monitoring of the availability of medicines and take more timely action to ration supply to patients before shortages occur.

“More rationing of medicine is inevitable if Pharmac cannot assure the public that the medicines their doctor has prescribed for them will be available when needed. Drug shortages are a reality in this country and the problem is getting worse not better with arrangements for sole supply putting patients at risk when problems of supply occur. Putting all of our eggs in one basket is a risky process and Pharmac’s inability to assure supply needs to be addressed immediately”

Pharmac is responsible for arranging the purchase of medicines and setting the level of subsidies. They contract with a range of companies to ensure patients can get the medicines they need. Problems arise when a shortage occurs with a sole supplier arrangement and there is no ready alternative. This means people do not get treatment and is of real concern to pharmacists.

Mr Heslop said Pharmac should also adopt a more open policy of advising the public when medicines are in short supply to ensure that patients are kept informed of problems. The lack of clear and timely statements from Pharmac caused confusion and anger with pharmacy patients and many of them assumed pharmacists were responsible for the shortage.

“Pharmac needs to front up to patients in pain or discomfort and explain why their policies are leading to some patients being unable to access treatment. The Government wants patients to have better access to medicines. It is time to review Pharmac’s policies to ensure that those government health objectives can be met.”

Mr Heslop said he strongly refuted claims he had not attended a stakeholder meeting held to try and find better ways to manage shortages. Such a meeting was mooted by Pharmac in early 2003, but the Guild was still waiting for it to occur.


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