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RMI helps PHARMAC over avoidable medicine shortage

RMI Media Release

22 September 2009

RMI members help PHARMAC over avoidable medicine shortage

The Researched Medicines Industry (RMI) says its members will be “calling in all the favours they can” from their international networks so patients are not left without medicines following a Medsafe ban on importing 20 PHARMAC-contracted generic medicines supplied by Apotex, a Canadian manufacturer.

Medsafe has followed other international medicine safety organisations in suspending imports of medicines from Apotex while the manufacturer’s plant undergoes quality checks.

RMI Chairman Dr Pippa MacKay says the task for other manufacturers to find spare supplies will not be easy.

“It is rare for stocks of medicines to be sitting on warehouse shelves waiting for a new customer.

“Companies who lost out to Apotex in the original bids to supply the medicines have since dedicated their international supplies to other countries.

“The risk PHARMAC runs by putting many eggs in one basket is that when things go wrong, they go badly wrong for patients,” she says.

Apotex is a sole supplier to PHARMAC of 30 generic medicines. Dr MacKay says sole supplier contracts are highly valued by winning bidders, but the downsides for New Zealand are that supply is very dependent on one source and patients have to use the one version of the medicine that is available, no matter how suitable for them or their condition.

She said that to avoid similar risks in the future it would be wise for the Government to recommend that PHARMAC use more dual or multiple-supplier contracts where possible.

“The advantages of multiple supplier contracts are that for a similar price, New Zealand gets more than one supplier, and patients get access to more than one option for the medicines they need,” Dr MacKay says.


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