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Stark choice for around 640,000 Kiwis

Stark choice for around 640,000 Kiwis[1]

Over a half a million older New Zealanders will soon face a stark medical choice - pay for a longstanding medicine that was previously funded, or accept a government-funded generic alternative produced in India.

The decision will be forced on approximately 640,000 users of New Zealand’s most prescribed brand for acid indigestion and reflux – Losec, as of 1st January 2009.[2]

It follows Pharmac’s decision to transfer funding from Losec to the sole supply funding of a lower cost generic omeprazole manufactured by Indian company, Dr Reddy’s.[3]

Losec, manufactured in Sweden, will still be available for those who prefer to stay with the medication they know. At around the price of a cup of coffee per week*, from the 1st January 2009 patients will need to ask their pharmacist to dispense Losec, because even if they have a Losec prescription they may end up actually being dispensed the generic alternative instead. From 1st May 2009 patients will have to pay the full cost of Losec.3

Losec is predominantly prescribed to older citizens; with 71% percent over 55 years and 91 percent over 40.1

Between 2000 and 2002 Pharmac fully funded an alternative medication to Losec called Somac, which is from the same drug class.

A survey of patients who made the switch showed over half experienced an increase in symptoms, 26 percent reported side effects, with 88 percent returning back to Losec.[4]

Users who wish to continue taking Losec should ask for it by name from their pharmacist when they take their Losec prescription to be filled.

The cost as of the 1st January 2009 is expected to be around 45 cents per day* for Losec, with the full cost from the 1st of May 2009 expected to increase to the equivalent of just over 50 cents per day*.

For more information
Bridget Cheesman, Four Winds Communications, 04 499 0873 or 021 953 787
Norrey Simmons, Four Winds Communications, 04 499 0873


[1] IMS Health (NZ) Ltd. A2B Antiulcerants; Pg 30. Dec 2007.
2 IMS Health (NZ) Ltd. MAT to Aug 2008.
3 Notification of Pharmaceutical Schedule Changes. May 2008.
4 CBG Health Research Study. AstraZeneca data on file. Jan 2002

* Estimated price per day based on Losec 20mg. Cost may vary between pharmacies. Losec® Consumer Information Losec capsules contain omeprazole 10mg, 20mg or 40mg. Approved Use Losec is used to treat the symptoms of reflux oesophagitis or reflux disease, and acid-related dyspepsia. Losec is also used to treat peptic ulcers and to help stop gastric or duodenal ulcers coming back. When used with antibiotics, Losec is used to kill Helicobacter pylori which can cause peptic ulcers. Losec is also used to heal and prevent ulcers associated with NSAIDs, and to treat Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Do not use Known allergic reaction to omeprazole. Precautions When gastric ulcer is suspected, the possibility of gastric cancer should be excluded before treatment is initiated. Adverse Effects The most common side effects are constipation, nausea & vomiting, diarrhoea & wind (flatulence) and headache. Medicine

Classification Prescription Medicine. Losec is a fully funded prescription medicine until 31st December 2008. From 1st of January 2009 a part charge will apply. A doctor’s charge and pharmacy charge will still apply. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor. For full consumer information please refer to the manufacturer’s Consumer Medicine Information Sheet available at www.medsafe.govt.nz. 24 September

2004. Trademarks herein are property of the AstraZeneca group. AstraZeneca Limited P O Box 1301 Auckland. Telephone (09) 623 6300 or Freephone 0800 363 200 Facsimile (09) 623 6301. TAPS CH2160. Nov 2008.

ENDS

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