Oz lags behind NZ in meds access: ASMI

complementary medicines - pills spill out of brown bottle

ASMI says New Zealand is ahead of Australia in increasing consumer access to medicines.

This was in response to a new study published in PLOS One, which compared consumer access to medicines in Australia and New Zealand. The study concluded that conservatism and political influences have a negative impact on rescheduling (“switch”) activity in Australia when compared to New Zealand, which has a more progressive approach to switch.

A number of medicines such as trimethoprim for urinary tract infection; triptans for migraine; oseltamivir for flu and flu vaccines are available in New Zealand as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines but still require a prescription in Australia.

“This study reinforces results of an earlier study, which demonstrated that New Zealand was the most active country in progressive switches from 2003 to 2013, followed by the United Kingdom and Japan,” says ASMI Executive Director Dr Deon Schoombie.

“Australia was one of three countries that showed the least switch activity during the decade.

“One of ASMI’s top priorities is to pursue reforms in this area. The current Australian scheduling environment is not conducive to increasing access to non-prescription medicines.

“ASMI is calling on the Federal Government to support a multi-stakeholder review of the Australian scheduling environment; develop a scheduling policy and ‘switch agenda’, and reform the regulatory framework to support the rescheduling of medicines, consistent with the National Medicines Policy.

“Increasing access to medicines has the potential to make meaningful contributions towards creating a sustainable healthcare system and to have a significant impact on individual and public health,” Dr Schoombie says.

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