The Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell has raised concerns about the management of medication brand changes across the health system, in a letter to the Director General of Health.
Ms McDowell’s letter was spurred by consumers’ complaints regarding a change in the brand of lamotrigine, a medication used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder.
The Commissioner’s letter highlights the lack of clarity about who is responsible for managing and communicating brand changes to consumers, with a blurred line between Pharmac, prescribers and pharmacists.
“These complaints show there is a systemic issue in our health system with ongoing risks to consumers, many of whom are vulnerable,” said Ms McDowell.
“It is essential that health care providers are appropriately informed so they can communicate effectively with their patients and carefully manage risks.
“I note that as a result of my letter, the Ministry of Health is undertaking a review of PHARMAC’s approach to communicating brand changes.
“I look forward to the outcomes of this work so that all agencies and people in the health system, including people receiving health services, have access to timely, consistent and accurate information.”