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Pharmac – properly inform our older citizens

Ross Robertson
Opposition spokesperson for Senior Citizens

18 December 2008 Media Statement

Pharmac – properly inform our older citizens

Pharmac needs to have an information campaign to inform senior citizens about the move to use more generic medicines, Labour Senior Citizens Spokesperson Ross Robertson said today.

“Pharmac’s move to only fund generic versions of paracetamol and Losec might save some dollars, but is very likely to raise the stress and potentially pain levels for many of our senior citizens that take those medicines,” Ross Robertson said.

“Natural fear of change, combined with alarming international reports about some generics, is already causing concern amongst older people. And we all know that vulnerable people can be suspicious of changes in their routines and medicines.

“I understand over 500,000 people are currently prescribed Losec and will be required to switch to a generic in the New Year. Yet, I don’t hear Pharmac telling those people that the medicine they are used to, Losec, will still be available, albeit at a charge on the patient,” Ross Robertson noted.

“Issues of choice are important,” he said.

“Of course we want to spend each health dollar in the best way possible, but arbitrary switching of medicines can be very worrying for people, especially when the original medicine will be available, as is apparently the case with both paracetamol and Losec.”

Ross Robertson said Pharmac and the new government should be thinking about the effect on the thousands of people who will be affected by the switch of these commonly prescribed medicines.

“Perhaps some sort of publicity to allay these fears by promoting the fact that the original medicines will still be available, at a cost, could be both a social and ethical approach that could reduce concerns,” Ross Robertson concluded.


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