INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt turns blind eye to drug wastage

Published: Tue 21 Dec 2004 10:35 AM
Govt turns blind eye to drug wastage
By turning a blind eye to drug wastage, the Government is throwing millions of health dollars away, says National’s Associate Health spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison.
A survey of drug prescriptions carried out by the Canterbury District Health Board and the local pharmacy guild suggests alarming ‘wastage’ of health dollars.
Dr Hutchison says the Canterbury figure, if extrapolated to the 892 pharmacies around the country, suggests a wastage of at least $4.8 million – and that’s just on the drugs that are returned - many more are being dumped.
“One of the reasons ‘all-at-once’ stat dispensing was abandoned in the late 1990s was because the nation’s bathrooms were over-flowing with unused drugs, creating a danger to children and wasting millions of dollars.”
Dr Hutchison said Pharmac is predicting a significant saving from the return to stat dispensing, but that is no excuse for accepting such wastage of scarce health dollars.
“Labour has already spent $3 billion more on health since 1999, and Treasury reports show fewer operations are being performed for more money. Labour is also increasing universal subsidies for drugs, which has the danger of patients not valuing their true worth. Despite its rhetoric, Labour is demonstrating a culture of extravagance and wastage.”
Dr Hutchison says this illustrates an urgent need for an audit and review of pharmaceutical dispensing.
“It is important that chemists are given an opportunity to work with doctors and patients to prevent wastage.”

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