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Let seniors know there is a choice of medicines

25 March 2009 Media Statement

Let senior citizens know there is a choice of medicines

In a speech to the Wellington AGM of Grey Power the new Labour Spokesperson for Senior Citizens reminded the group that tough times lie ahead for the rapidly approaching baby boomer population blip.

“The costs of health and disability support services increase significantly with age, and while older people may be healthier for longer today, the rapid growth in the number and proportion of older people from now on in will inevitable put pressure on health funding,” Ross Robertson, the Labour senior citizens spokesperson said.

“Labour was in government for a relatively long time and during that time had a proud record of delivering support services to our older population. However, I now see my role as keeping the new government to account to ensure policies are not unravelled and senior citizens can continue to receive the support they not only deserve but need.

“A matter I have already identified as an issue is the arbitrary decisions by PHARMAC to move thousands of older people from medicines they know and trust to generic versions. Two current good examples are Lipex and Losec – medicines that many in the audience will be familiar with.

“Of course PHARMAC has to source medicines at the best price possible, but the fact that the elderly can be fearful of change can lead to confusion and resistance.

“My point is choice. My constituents tell me pharmacists are switching them to the new variety of Losec without telling them they can still get the old one, albeit at a cost.

“The simple courtesy of telling folk that a choice exists is surely not too hard for pharmacists. And it shouldn’t be too hard either for the Government, through PHARMAC, to ensure that folk are made aware a choice exists,” Ross Robertson said.

“I am taking this issue to the Minister as I believe that choice is a huge issue for older folk, and that the Government is obliged to ensure that vulnerable people know they do have a choice,” he concluded.


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