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Consumers get easier access to effective medicines

MEDIA STATEMENT

Consumers get easier access to effective medicines through reclassification

October 17, 2014: Consumer healthcare products industry body, the New Zealand Self-Medication Industry Association (SMI) says the announcement yesterday that New Zealand men will be the first in the world to access a generic erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment, known as sildenafil, direct from trained pharmacists without a prescription could be followed by more such medicine ‘reclassifications’.

“Reclassifications or ‘switches’ such as this deliver more choice, easier access and potentially lower overall costs to consumers,” explains SMI executive director, Tim Roper.

Mr Roper says it is great for New Zealand consumers that a locally-owned company, Douglas Pharmaceuticals, has led the world in successfully applying for sildenafil to be made more accessible.

“Our industry would like to see other similar pharmaceuticals that are deemed safe and effective be reclassified as appropriate. Medsafe has even encouraged our members to submit more applications,” says Mr Roper.

He says, however, that the path to reclassification is not always easy and the rewards for a pioneering company may be limited.

“This has been a bold step by Douglas, especially as this reclassification doesn’t come with data protection and market exclusivity.

“Our organisation has been campaigning for products that are reclassified to be granted market exclusivity and data protection for a reasonable period to allow them time to at least recoup the costs of their initiative before competitors have similar access. Otherwise, there is little incentive for suppliers to ‘switch’ their products. It can be a costly exercise.

“Consumers are missing out on effective products being available through their pharmacist or retailer without a prescription.

“Pharmacists, for example, have already shown they can act responsibly in dispensing medicines such as Losec, trimethoprim, Tamiflu, and flu vaccine.”

-ENDS-

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