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One step means less paperwork for cholesterol drug

8 August 2005

One step means less paperwork for cholesterol drug

Government drug-funder PHARMAC is giving patients easier long-term access to the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (Lipitor) and reducing the workload of clinicians in the process.

From 1 September people will be able to have a lifetime Special Authority approval for atorvastatin at first application, rather than having to make two applications as at present. Current criteria require patients to have a 12-week trial before a second application is made.

Special Authority is a targeting mechanism to help ensure medicines are used by people who meet specific funding criteria.

Chief Executive Wayne McNee says the change is another way in which PHARMAC is responding to issues that have been raised by clinicians about paperwork.

“We have reviewed the prescribing data which shows that about 95 percent of patients go through both stages of the approval process,” Wayne McNee says. “This suggests there is little need for having a 12-week trial period, and that clinicians are very good at accurately identifying patients who meet the access criteria.

“There will be an increase in the number of patients who receive atorvastatin as a result of this change. Another benefit will be that there will be a reduction in the cost of blood tests, which are required at both the first and second applications. Now just one set of blood tests will be required.”

Currently about 25,000 people are prescribed atorvastatin, representing about 10 percent of all patients prescribed a cholesterol-lowering statin.

PHARMAC estimates the change could see patient numbers increase by about 5 percent.


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