With last year’s reclassification of sildenafil, New Zealand reinforced its reputation as an innovator in down-scheduling medicines from prescription to non-prescription status, says ASMI.
International switch expert Dr Natalie Gauld (pictured), who will speak at ASMI’s Conference on 11 November 2015, has led research showing that New Zealand, like the United Kingdom, has been open to innovative switches, with both countries showing a flexibility and interest in non-traditional switches.
Alison Van Wyk, Head of Professional Services – Green Cross Health in New Zealand, will co-present with Dr Gauld at ASMI’s Conference. Green Cross Health, which has over 300 community pharmacies under the brands Unichem and Life Pharmacy, championed and invested in seven successful reclassifications in New Zealand during the last five years.
“The model in New Zealand is increasingly moving towards supporting pharmacists – with mandated training and screening tools – in order to open up consumer access,” says Dr Gauld.
“This model has enabled switches, thereby opening up consumers’ access to medicines.
“Recent innovative switches include sildenafil for erectile dysfunction, vaccinations including influenza, shingles, pertussis (whooping cough) and meningococcal disease, topical calcipotriol for psoriasis and trimethoprim for cystitis.
“Given the burgeoning health costs and demands on a limited general practitioner workforce, as well as an ageing population, there is a need to innovate to enable greater consumer access to effective medicines and future-proof health systems in all countries.”
She says that switch in New Zealand has increased consumer access to medicines and made the most of pharmacists’ training as well as consumers’ greater health literacy and involvement in managing their own health.
“The safety features commonly seen with recent switches provide a level of comfort for advisory committees and decision-makers, and have no doubt enabled these switches,” she says.
“Anecdotal feedback from consumers and pharmacists indicates they appreciate having these new services in pharmacy.
“Pharmacists want to use their expertise to help their local community, and switch helps to achieve that. Research has provided reassurance around the switches, providing increased confidence in the appropriateness of further switches,” Dr Gauld says.
Alison Van Wyk says: “As a vital member of the primary care team, pharmacists have embraced the new services that reclassification has opened up for them. We are delighted with the number of pharmacists who have taken up these services.
“The new service tools, training and information provided as part of the reclassification have assisted pharmacists in delivering a safe and quality service. Advancing consumer health through responsible self care
“A survey completed by consumers who were given their influenza vaccine by a pharmacist, found that 42% of the respondents did not have an influenza vaccine the previous year. This suggests these services can increase uptake, particularly in the prevention of serious diseases.
“It’s all about offering conveniently accessible options for consumers,” she stated.
Dr Gauld and Alison Van Wyk recently received the Ko Awatea International Excellence in Health Improvement Award for “creating a flexible and sustainable workforce,” with their work on reclassification, including vaccinations.