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Minister should review Pharmac drug assessment

Dr Lynda Scott National Senior Citizens Spokesperson

30 October 2001

Minister should review Pharmac drug assessment

New Zealanders are receiving third world treatment when it comes to new drugs, National's Senior Citizens and Associate Health spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

"Within the last week the Australia and America specialists have called New Zealanders lack of funding for anti-Alzheimer drugs 'appalling'.

"The problem is that Pharmac focusses only on the specific effects on individual patients rather than a more extensive cost-benefit analysis," Dr Scott said.

"Prof. Jeffery Cummings' research showed these drugs not only improve memory, but delay the loss of daily activities, defer nursing home placements and the need for other drugs. It is easily established after a month whether the treatment works on particular patients.

"Wider use of the drugs could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in residential care costs - dementia care costs $636 a week or $33 ,000 a year, compared to the cost of the drug which is $2000 a year.

"When funding these drugs Pharmac does not consider any aspects but the effects on memory. Wayne McNee, chief executive of Pharmac, even said the percieved benefits were not worthy of an investment of $2000 a year per patient (The Press 26/1001).

"As a Geriatrician who has seen the beneficial effects on Alzheimers sufferers, who can afford the treatment, and how their need for care has been reduced, it is unacceptable that New Zealanders cannot have access when Australians can.

"Health Minister Annette King finally admitted in Parliament today that there were major cost savings to be made by allowing more use of some of these beneficial drugs.

"She must review Pharmac's decision making process so that takes into account the full benefits of the treatment," Dr Scott said.

Ends


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