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Medicines for treating dementia

23 July 2008

Medicines for treating dementia

“Alzheimer’s New Zealand should be congratulated for its excellent report on the economic impact of dementia in New Zealand. This was launched last night” said Researched Medicines Industry chairman, Dr Pippa MacKay.

“We are very supportive of Alzheimer’s New Zealand’s mission of making life better for people affected by dementia. In particular we strongly agree with the report’s conclusion that early access to medications at an affordable price is a major constraint in New Zealand for people with dementia and their families and carers.

“While approved medicines are available in New Zealand, they are not yet listed for subsidy by PHARMAC. These are proven to be effective for many patients in slowing progression in early stages, enabling people with dementia to stay productive longer, plan their affairs and have higher quality of life,” she said.

The new generation medicines cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine are publicly funded in other OECD countries, but not in New Zealand.

The report urges PHARMAC to review their position on access to these effective medicines for dementia.

Regrettably the 08/09 PHARMAC budget announced last week provides for a paltry increase of 2.7% when inflation is approaching 5%. This provides little scope for much needed investment.

“In addition to not funding the innovative medicines for dementia New Zealand has one of the lowest dementia research expenditures of any OECD country with only $1 being spent on research for each $243 of the financial cost of dementia.

“Having attended the launch and reading this report one can only conclude that PHARMAC’s aggressive ‘cost containment’ culture is yet again failing miserably to meet the urgent health needs of not only Alzheimer’s sufferers, but New Zealanders with a variety of conditions and diseases for whom medicines are available, but not funded,” said Dr MacKay.


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