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Drug shortage problem worsens

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

13 January 2003

Drug shortage problem worsens

National's Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott says she is seriously concerned about a shortage of epilepsy drug Dilantin, after hearing of pharmacies struggling to supply patients with this drug.

"New Zealand is on the verge of running out of this drug because our sole supplier, Pfizer, is having manufacturing problems in Sydney, which means it is rationing supplies of Dilantin to the whole of the Pacific region.

"I have written to the Minister of Health today expressing my serious concern over the sole supply of this drug and the affect this is having on the supply of Dilantin.

"The shortage is worst in areas outside Auckland who don't have direct access to Pfizer.

"Today I have spoken to a Pharmacist in Shirley, Christchurch, who has only one bottle left of the drug. Other pharmacies only have 30mg tablets left, when 100mg is the most commonly used strength of tablet. Right now people are returning from their holidays and needing refills of their usual drug supply.

"It is difficult for epilepsy sufferers to change from Dilantin to other drugs because they have side affects such as seizures, which prevents them from driving and affects their day to day lives.

"The Minister must act to ensure that these patients are not treated as though they live in a Third World country. We need to know urgently when adequate supplies will be available and what contingency plans are in place," Dr Scott said.


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