INDEPENDENT NEWS

Diabetes Deaths Certain After Pharmac Decision

Published: Wed 23 Dec 2020 09:43 AM
Diabetes Foundation Aotearoa says hundreds of early deaths are now certain among 4 out of every 5 diabetics not eligible for lifechanging diabetes medicines to be funded by Pharmac.
Chairman Dr John Baker said Pharmac’s announcement yesterday to fund empagliflozin and dulaglutide in very limited amounts was “terribly sad”.
“53,0000 people will be grateful for this very small gift, but 200,000 people have lost forever their chance for life.”
Baker estimated that open access to SGLT-2 could prevent 491 deaths each year and 99 renal replacement therapies (dialysis), and 286 deaths by use of GLP-agonist drugs.
He chided Pharmac for ‘penny pinching’ over medicines that were already 15 years old and the standard of care in the developed world.
“The overwhelming clinical feedback was that these medicines are so good, so heavily used across the world, and so cheap, that every diabetes patient on oral agents should be able to have them.
“Instead, Pharmac saves money by limiting supply of cheap medicines for one of New Zealand’s biggest causes of premature death.”
One drug, Metformin extended release, was not funded at all despite clear benefits for patients (that is, a cheap generic, one dose per day, with low side effects).
Baker said a million people – the 200,000 patients and their families – will start to complain when they are rejected by the Special Authority system Pharmac is using to restrict access.
“GPs in poor and ethnic communities are over-worked and under-resourced - making them wade through Special Authority paperwork will lower the number of successful applications.”
Baker said high risk groups such as South Asian patients were disadvantaged by the new race-based eligibility rule. He predicted Doctors would be pressured to misuse or challenge the rule for patients who did not meet the level of illness required but would still get significant clinical improvement from the medicines.

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