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PHARMAC moves to secure antibiotics for pandemic

12 December 2005

PHARMAC moves to secure antibiotics for pandemic

Work is underway to secure a guaranteed supply of antibiotics in the event of an influenza pandemic, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

PHARMAC will contact pharmaceutical suppliers today to request proposals for the antibiotic supply effort.

"We know that in the 1918 influenza pandemic, most deaths were caused by secondary bacterial infections," Pete Hodgson said. "Securing a supply of antibiotics will be an important part of our readiness for a potential pandemic.

"Taking this step early will put us ahead of the curve as demand for antibiotics are expected to spike dramatically if a pandemic is declared.

"It's important to stress that at this stage we can't be certain that a pandemic will occur in the near future and we definitely can't be certain how a possible pandemic will effect people."

Due to the uncertainty involved in the planning process, PHARMAC is seeking proposals that address a number of possible scenarios. One important issue to address is the possibility that antibiotic supplies may expire before they are needed.

PHARMAC is also asking suppliers to address how antibiotics could be packaged for easy distribution given the likely pressures the health workforce would face during a pandemic.

"We will continue to take carefully considered steps to ensure New Zealand is as well-prepared for a possible pandemic as we can be," Pete Hodgson said.

"New Zealanders can be assured that planning is well-advanced. The government is working with businesses and communities throughout New Zealand to identify all the steps we can take now to make sure we are ready when and if a pandemic occurs."

Additional information

Expected cost of supply

- Until proposals are received, it is impossible to give an exact cost. PHARMAC estimates that securing a supply will cost between $6 and $10 million.

Timing

- Proposals are due by 10 January. Following that PHARMAC will be developing those proposals with the companies with a view to reaching supply agreements by March.

What drugs are involved?

- The full list is in the Request for Proposals document, which is available on the Pharmac website, www.pharmac.govt.nz

ENDS


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