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Contraceptive Implant Demand Exhausts Supply

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Contraceptive Implant Demand Exhausts Supply

Wellington, Oct 11 NZPA - New Zealand women have rushed to use a new government-funded contraceptive implant, exhausting in three weeks the supply that was meant to last a year.

Pharmac started $1 million funding of Bayer's contraceptive Jadelle from August 1, dropping the price from $300 to $3 -- hoping to save costs on repeat doctor visits and pharmacy costs.

The long-acting implants are small removable rods which are inserted just below the skin in the arm. They can provide contraception for up to five years.

Pharmac, using modelling based elsewhere, including Australia, where 10 percent of women used hormonal contraceptives, has estimated 35,000 here would use the drug over five years.

However, 1700 women had so far opted to use the drug, meaning the country has run out and now has to wait for a new batch to come from Finland. It should be here by early next month.

"That 1700 initial units that was moved was estimated to be what was needed for a year," a Pharmac spokesman said.

It was the first time such a product had been funded and the "massive, massive" demand had caught Pharmac by surprise.

"With new products coming into the markets, particularly with pharmaceuticals, what we usually see is a slow early uptake, and then that grows over time.

"It's quite unusual to have a new product come in where there's a massive underlying demand where as soon as you bring it in it goes out the door."

New Zealand might still need only 35,000 over five years but early underlying demand and publicity may have prompted people to get on waiting lists, he said.

The spokesman said the agency did not think there would be a risk of unwanted pregnancies while the drug was unavailable because women wanting it would probably already be taking orally-based contraceptives.

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