19 December 2008
Patients get better access to anti-acne drug
Patients will benefit from a Pharmac decision to allow specialist GPs to prescribe a drug to treat the most severe cases of acne, College of GPs President Dr Jonathan Fox said today.
“This will be cheaper and simpler for patients,” he said. GPs have previously been able to prescribe the drug, but without Pharmac subsidies. Restricting funding to dermatologists only has tended to create equity issues.
“Isotretinoin is a powerful treatment that enables the reduction of facial scarring. Simpler access to this drug via their GP will have huge benefits for sufferers. We have had a tendency in the past to underestimate the effect of acne on the patient’s self-esteem, for instance.”
Dr Fox welcomed the decision as recognition of the extra training and ability of vocationally-registered GPs, who will now note their competence to deliver the drug on a special authority.
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners will arrange for ongoing training in using such drugs as part of its Continuing Professional Development programme.
Isotretinoin must be prescribed with care as it has recognised risks; with the two most significant its effect on the unborn child and an association with an increase in suicide rates.
“GPs offer a continuity of care which is particularly important in such circumstances,” Dr Fox said.
To achieve vocational registration from the Medical Council of NZ doctors need specialist training; Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners indicates such training has been completed and allows Fellows to apply for vocational registration This allows doctors to practice independently.