National pharmaceuticals funder PHARMAC has begun a significant step towards standardising hospital medicines throughout the country.
PHARMAC has released two lists of medicines that it proposes every District Health Board hospital would fund. Once finalised, these lists will form a hospital version of the community Pharmaceutical Schedule. The first lists relate mainly to cardiovascular (heart disease) and rheumatology (arthritis) treatments.
Medical Director, Dr Peter Moodie, says the ultimate objective of the current process is to give patients, clinicians, hospital pharmacists and DHB management certainty over what medicines are available in all hospitals.
"We want to avoid the situation where medicines are funded in some DHB regions but not in others," says Dr Moodie. "A standardised national list would ensure people have the same access to the same hospital medicines regardless of where they live."
"It would also mean a smoother transition of patients from hospital into the community, as it would ensure the medicines that are initiated in hospital will be also funded in the community."
Dr Moodie says PHARMAC has been engaged in an extensive information-gathering exercise over the past two years, to find out what medicines DHB hospitals are currently providing for patients. PHARMAC has collated the information and used it to construct a list of the medicines that are commonly funded by all DHB hospitals at present.
As part of consultation on the draft lists to be nationally funded, PHARMAC is also including a list of medicines currently funded by some DHBs, but which it is proposing won't be included on the national list.
"We want to know people's views on the positive and negative lists. We also want people to think carefully about the things that aren't there, to ensure we have all the information we need," says Dr Moodie. "The proposals will affect different DHBs in different ways - for example the type of medicines currently available in big city hospitals may be different to those in provincial areas, even taking into consideration the differences in specialist services at each hospital. This may have different impacts on the clinicians within those hospitals. These are the sorts of views we want to hear through the consultation process."
"This list will become the schedule of funded medicines that PHARMAC specifies for hospitals, just as we currently do for all medicines funded in the community."
PHARMAC is releasing the consultation lists to all DHB hospitals, pharmaceutical suppliers, medical groups, patient groups and posting it to the PHARMAC website. In addition to issuing the document, Dr Moodie says PHARMAC will also be offering to meet with groups wanting to discuss the proposals face to face.
Consultation will run for five weeks until 7 September.
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