Speech: Dunne - Address at Launch of NZ Medicines Formulary
Hon Peter Dunne
Associate Minister of Health
Address at Launch of NZ Medicines Formulary
Civic Suites, Wellington Town Hall
Thursday 19 July 2012
Good afternoon and thank you all for being here to mark this significant milestone.
Today we launch the New Zealand Formulary and I must say I am delighted that this day has now come.
In many respects, we all take for granted that medicines are used in many settings throughout the community and in hospitals to treat a wide range of New Zealanders with various conditions.
In many cases medicines keep us well, thereby keeping the ambulance at the top of that proverbial cliff.
Whether prescribing dispensing or administering medicines, healthcare professionals need to work together and be supported by technology that helps them to do their jobs better by giving them ready access to excellent medicines information.
Only then will we achieve the outcomes of safety, quality, access and optimal use of medicines
In recognising that medicines are pivotal to the health of our nation, it is clear that what we need is a coherent approach to the use of medicines in our healthcare system.
This is why I promoted the establishment of the New Zealand Medicines Strategy from 2005, and why Actioning Medicines New Zealand committed to the development of a medicines formulary way back in 2007.
Historically we have always known the importance of a medicines formulary.
Indeed the first New Zealand Formulary was a War Formulary published in 1942 and another followed that in 1953.
They were based on the British National Formulary and came with New Zealand supplements which showed, that even then, we had our own unique needs that had to be catered for.
The formularies of old were well thumbed, jealously guarded and fitted nicely into your back pocket.
As time went on, medicines knowledge grew and if the newer formularies were to be printed now, they would be more doorstop than a back pocket companion.
It will be different this time.
You might have an eReader or a smart phone in your back pocket when you next refer to the New Zealand Formulary.
Some time in the future, your computer might just tell you the answer to a question you have about a medicine without you even needing to ask it.
Our needs as a nation and your needs as healthcare professionals have changed since 1942.
While the need for excellent medicines information remains, it has extra value when incorporated into our clinical health IT systems.
The New Zealand Universal List of Medicines, released in 2010, began the journey towards this ideal.
That provides the foundation for a more complete medicines information system, prevents potentially harmful confusion about medicines, and through a standardised medicines terminology, allows clinical health IT systems across the sector to talk to each other.
One cannot forget groups like the Health Information Strategy Action Committee, the Health Information Standards Organisation and its Expert Advisory Group, the Safe Medication Management Programme and the NZULM Steering Group for their pioneering work with regards to a medicine terminology for New Zealand and the New Zealand Universal List of Medicines
In 2010, a clinically led reference group with broad sector representation helped further define what a medicines formulary for New Zealand should be.
They specified that the formulary had to be a first reference resource about the use of medicines that addresses the day-to-day needs of healthcare professionals in New Zealand across primary and secondary care.
It was important that the formulary build on the NZULM and be a one-stop-shop covering clinical information as well medicines classification information, subsidy and medicines actually used in New Zealand.
Out of six parties interested in providing medicines formulary for New Zealand, a partnership between BPACnz, BPACinc and the UK based Royal Pharmaceutical Society was selected.
The partnership proposed to provide New Zealand with a medicines formulary that was built on the New Zealand Universal List of Medicines and based on the British National Formulary, but specially adapted for the New Zealand context.
The partnership - under the leadership of Murray Tilyard - has been working extremely hard to turn the British National Formulary, something that is highly regarded among health professionals the world over, into something that New Zealand health professionals will hold in even higher regard because of its applicability to New Zealand practice.
Murray has worked tirelessly and enthusiastically to achieve a national formulary in New Zealand and I want to acknowledge his drive and passion, and can imagine how pleased he must feel that we have come at last to this day.
The formulary team have managed to provide us with a formulary within nine months of signing a contract, exactly as promised.
I have no doubt that the work of all those involved in this process from inception in the very first days until now, will make an invaluable contribution to health outcomes in New Zealand and I commend you for your commitment.
I am very pleased to hear reports of the New Zealand Formulary being welcomed so quickly.
Auckland University School of Pharmacy have already begun incorporating the New Zealand Formulary into their teaching programme.
The team at Health Pathways are looking at ways to incorporate the New Zealand Formulary into their referral pathways for Canterbury, Aoraki, West Coast, Nelson Marlborough, and Hutt Valley DHBs.
A number of hospitals are also looking to utilise this important resource.
It is the health-sectors resource and I encourage you all to make the most of it.
Patients will benefit from improved care through safe, consistent practice and quality improvement.
Health professionals will benefit through ready access to an up to date one-stop-shop but there are more gains to come over time, as the New Zealand Formulary becomes fully integrated with the e-health environment including prescribing and dispensing software.
In the old days one used to cut a ribbon at a launch.
But this is a new era in healthcare and medicines information.
So, today, it is with great pleasure I launch the New Zealand Formulary with the push of a button.