By Rowan Quinn of RNZ
Nearly 50,000 ADHD patients will have easier access to Ritalin and other restricted medicine in a change just announced by Pharmac.
Until now, they needed a new prescription every month for methylphenidate or dexamphetamine, two of the main drugs for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
From June 1, they will only need a prescription every three months, providing they are using an electronic prescription.
ADHD NZ chairman Darrin Bull applauded the change and said it would save people both time and money getting repeat prescriptions.
It also had a wider, psychological impact, he said.
“I think it is normalising ADHD as a medical condition - which it is, it’s a neurological condition. The approach by the medical community to it should be the same as any other medical condition,” he said.
Pharmac director of operations Lisa Williams said the drug buying agency had worked with clinics and the ADHD community on the changes.
“This will reduce costs to approximately 48,000 New Zealanders who receive funded methylphenidate and dexamphetamine and it has the potential to reduce stress for people living with ADHD,” she said.
The change would not apply to paper prescriptions because that would require a change in legislation and the medication would still be dispensed in monthly batches.
Bull said there was still another major barrier in place to access to medication - the requirement to have the approval of a psychiatrist or paediatrician every two years to be able to get the medicine from a GP.
Both Pharmac and Te Whatu Ora were looking into the rule.
The issue was highlighted in the disciplinary trial of Auckland GP and ADHD expert Tony Hanne last year.
He was found guilty of professional misconduct after he tried to find a way around the change by getting a specialist to rubber stamp approvals.