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Eltroxin sufferers to wait months, not weeks

8 October 2008
Eltroxin sufferers to wait months, not weeks as promised

Government drug-funding body Pharmac has confirmed today to the Green Party that people experiencing adverse reactions to the thyroid drug Eltroxin will have to wait until at least mid November for a subsidised alternative medicine, despite Government assurances in September that an alternative was only weeks away.

"This is terrible news for the 1000's of people suffering severe side effects from the new-formula Eltroxin, especially when the Associate Minister of Health Jim Anderton promised in Parliament way back in September that an alternative was only weeks away," Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgely says.

"Despite Government promises made on the 10th of September that "within a matter of weeks an alternative to Eltroxin will be on the market", it has now been confirmed to me that 1000s of people will have to wait at least until mid-November before there is a Government funded alternative available. That's two months of waiting, not two weeks.

"It is completely unacceptable for the Government to make empty promises when people's health is at stake.

"The Minister must front up and explain to the 1000s of people forced onto a sub-standard drug why the Government has not been able to deliver on its promise and fast track an alternative medication under special powers under the Medicines Act.

"While some people are able to privately fund their own alternative supply, many cannot afford this expense and instead are forced to live with the debilitating side effects of Eltroxin," Ms Kedgley says.

"The Thyroid Association reports that a sample of 24 Eltroxin users had 52 medical services between them in the year before they started on the new formula drug. However post-Eltroxin, this number had skyrocketed to 460.

"The cost to the public health system through increased medical claims, as well as to the private sector through days off work and prolonged sick leave are considerable," Ms Kedgley says.

Side effects reported range from constant tiredness to depression, dizziness, inability to concentrate, memory lapses, and impaired coordination.


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