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Pharmac Policies Increase Risk

28 October, 2004

Pharmac Policies Increase Risk Of Out Of Stock Medicines

Pharmacists are experiencing increasing numbers of stock shortages and are having real difficulties finding alternative supplies and explaining the situation to patients. Naturally patients get quite upset and worried when the pharmacist has to tell them their medicine is not available or that supply is being tightly rationed.

Pharmac’s policy of subsidising only one brand of many medicines for New Zealanders creates problems when that medicine is not available. Pharmacists are extremely concerned that patient wellbeing is put at risk in these situations says the Pharmacy Guild.

Guild President Richard Heslop said while a variety of factors can contribute to medicines being out of stock, the sole supply approach exacerbates the problem.

“When a sole supply tender is let by Pharmac we become totally dependant on that arrangement for the sole brand of medicine that is subsidised. Previously before Pharmac brought in this new arrangement, there were often a number of similar medicines available and subsidised to meet patient’s needs. Now there is often no competing alternative brand to fall back on when shortages occur and that can potentially impact on prescriber and patient choice of medicine and availability.”

Mr Heslop said if Pharmac only purchased and subsidised one brand of medicine then there was no logic for other suppliers to maintain their products in New Zealand.

He said the issue was also highlighted when there was a drug recall and there was no acceptable alternative brand available for patients.

Where Pharmac has penalty clauses in their contracts with suppliers for failure to supply, these penalty payments do not filter down to pharmacy as any acknowledgment for the additional time required in the management of patients during shortages.

Some examples of out of stock medicines (OOS) which have occurred over the past few years include;

Current / most recent OOS

Advantan Ointment and Cream, (sole supply contract), for the treatment of eczema Coloxyl Tabs Constipation, (sole supply contract), for the treatment of constipation Merbentyl Tabs, (sole supply contract), to relieve discomfort and cramps of the digestive tract Ortho Coil, (sole supply contract), diaphragm Ortho all flex, (sole supply contract), diaphragm Allopurinol 100mg and 300mg Tablets, (sole supply contract) for the treatment of gout Lorazepam, (sole supply contract), for the treatment of anxiety B Complex, Vitamin supplement Mylanta P, antacid for the relief of indigestion and heartburn

Past OOS (2002-2003)

Morphine Tablets, for severe pain Fergon Elixer, for the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia Loratadine, for the treatment of hay fever Phenytoin, for the treatment of epilepsy Metoprolol, for the treatment of high blood pressure, angina and heart failure Gliclazide, for the treatment of diabetes Diclofenac, Non Steroidal Anti inflammatory, for the treatment of pain Ibuprofen, Non Steroidal Anti inflammatory, for the treatment of pain Felodipine, for the treatment of high blood pressure and angina


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