December 03, 2020
Diabetes drug rationing prescription for failure
An Auckland-based diabetes support service is challenging Pharmac to properly fund medicines which have been proven to help control the disease.
Diabetes Foundation Aotearoa chair and Ōtara-based diabetes specialist John Baker says New Zealand and Serbia are the only developed countries where empagliflozin and dulaglutide are not a standard treatment.
The medicines reduce blood sugars and protect patients’ kidneys and hearts, which makes it less likely patients will need expensive dialysis.
Dr Baker says the government drug buying agency’s current proposal would only cover the cost for 50,000 people – one-fifth of those who would benefit – forcing GPs and specialists to decide which of their patients can continue to live a fulfilling life and which should be relegated to a managed decline that could include dialysis, amputations, blindness and heart failure.
He says the funding decision was delayed while Pharmac looked at ways to ensure Māori and Pasifika patients got equal access, but the best way to ensure that is to allow open access to the drugs for any diabetic patient.
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