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Greens call for better medicine management

30 August 2005

Greens call for better medicine management

The Green Party is calling for Medicine Management Plans for all high users of pharmaceuticals to try to prevent harm to the about 3000 people hospitalised each year due to adverse medicine reactions.

"With New Zealand spending more than $500 million dollars each year on 25 million prescriptions, there are inevitably a significant number of adverse reactions to medicines. Some of these result in death and disability, but most could be avoided with better monitoring and understanding," Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.

"Under our plan, Pharmacists will be funded to provide Medicine Management Plans to the highest pharmaceutical users among adult New Zealanders, at an estimated cost of $14 million," Ms Kedgley said.

"About 3 percent of New Zealanders are taking more than four or five medicines at any one time, many for multiple diseases. It's essential we monitor these high users and ensure they are not developing adverse effects or drug reactions.

"This is a simple solution which will reduce the number of people harmed by medicines. It will save both PHARMAC and the Health Ministry thousands of dollars and keep people out of hospital.

"The reality is that if a patient isn't taking their medicine properly or if there is a drug interaction, then the medication is more likely to harm than improve their health. Pharmacists are very knowledgeable members of the healthcare team when it comes to finding drug interactions and managing people who are taking multiple medications. They have the skills to review a patient's prescriptions as well as over-the-counter drugs and point out interactions, therapy duplications or dosage compliance issues."

High users eligible for the service will be identified by an agreed set of criteria - for example, persons using more than four or five different medicines and with multiple diseases.

The Plan: Pharmacists will provide high users with a plan that assesses, identifies and resolves medication problems related to:

* Compliance with recommended use of medication.

· Providing education and consumer information on the appropriate use of medications.

· Monitoring and evaluating the patient's response to therapy, including safety and effectiveness.

· The appropriateness of the dose of each medication, including consideration of indications, contraindications, potential adverse effects and adverse interactions between medicines.

· Therapeutic duplication or other unnecessary medications.

· Communicating appropriate information to the doctor or other health care provider.

The cost:
Pharmacists would require an additional $13.5 to $14 million in order to provide this service to the 3 percent of the adult population over the age of 20 years who are high users of medication.

Consumer Information Panel:
The Green Party also wants mandatory and easy to understand consumer information on each medicine dispensed in New Zealand.

"Consumers need to be aware of potential risks and adverse reactions with pharmaceuticals, as well as potential benefits. It is essential that this sort of information is provided with each medicine that is dispensed," Ms Kedgley said.


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