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New policy will close community pharmacies

New policy will close community pharmacies

A Pharmac proposal to return to the old way of patients picking up three-months' worth of prescription medicine at one visit is absurd and short-sighted, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

"The plan is aimed at saving money, but it will reduce choices for doctors and patients about what is the safest and most appropriate way of receiving prescription drugs. It will also mean less money paid to pharmacies in dispensing fees, which could cause the closure of hundreds of community pharmacies around New Zealand," Ms Kedgley said.

"This would have significant health effects, including reduced access to pharmaceuticals, and the loss for some communities of the medical oversight and support that local pharmacies provide."

"The Pharmac proposal has been drawn up in the interest of creating short-term savings for Pharmac and District Health Boards," Ms Kedgley said. "But public health considerations must come first.

"Instead of Pharmac forcing 70 per cent of prescriptions over to three-monthly dispensing, as proposed, decisions about how medicine should be dispensed should be made by doctors, patients and pharmacists, based on what is best for the patients' health. The options should include the current system of a one-monthly renewable prescription," Ms Kedgley said.

"This would save Pharmac some money but would not crush the community pharmacies, and would allow patients and doctors more options in deciding what is best for the patient's health."

Pharmac estimates its proposal will save $35 million. If adopted, the new scheme will begin in July. Ms Kedgley said she was shocked that Pharmac had not consulted pharmacies before announcing this radical policy restructure.

"Forcing everyone onto three-monthly prescribing could also have significant adverse health consequences," Ms Kedgley said. "We will end up with lots of people, especially the elderly, with stockpiles of outdated pills.

"Some patients could end up being without proper surveillance by a health professional for up to three months. There would be greatly increased quantity of drugs in the community, which will also increase the danger of accidental poisoning, especially child poisonings, overdoses and the misuse and diversion of medicines. It would also inevitably result in significant wastage of medicines and disposal problems," Ms Kedgley said

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