20 Oct 2011

Wider role for pharmacists inevitable, says minister

10:01 pm on 20 October 2011

Health Minister Tony Ryall says it is inevitable that pharmacists will lead the management of an anti-clotting drug for patients.

A pilot study by the Pharmaceutical Society shows pharmacists managed warfarin better and more cheaply than doctors and says it should be extended.

Fifty-six thousand New Zealanders take the drug, but it requires careful management which is done by GPs.

Warfarin is the most common anti-clotting drug, but is prescribed for only a third of those needing it for heart problems due to the care required in its monitoring and control.

The study was funded by the Government to see if pharmacists could provide a new kind of service, under supervision, to ease growing pressures on GPs.

It concluded that pharmacists provided more convenient and high-quality care that also saved $400 per patient a year.

The Medical Association says while they support a wider role for pharmacists, doctors do not need help with warfarin.

But Mr Ryall says an independent evaluation has confirmed that management of warfarin by pharmacists is safe and convenient and could save millions of dollars.

The Pharmacy Guild says it also hopes to deliver annual flu jabs and help manage patients with chronic conditions.