A new scheme will see farmers able to get prescription medicines delivered.

The scheme's backers say the initiative is designed to help address high rates of mental illness and other conditions in rural areas.

According to recent research mental health disorders are prevalent among those living in rural regions with almost a fifth (18 per cent) of those surveyed seeking help in the past year.

Research has also found rates of chronic diseases, such as stroke and diabetes, are comparable to those living in urban areas; conditions which experts say can be addressed through better adherence to prescription medication.


Other research showed those living in rural regions of New Zealand often do not have their doctor's prescriptions filled, and will frequently forget to take their medication, which can contribute to poor long-term health outcomes.

Ministry of Health data has also found rural residents are less likely to visit their GP or pharmacist.

Under a new scheme, Federated Farmers has partnered with a health care service provider to ensure their more than 13,000 members will now have their prescription medicines delivered to their door, with a subsidised delivery charge - helping remove some of the barriers which may prevent them from accessing prescribed medication.

Federated Farmers CEO Terry Copeland. Photo / Supplied
Federated Farmers CEO Terry Copeland. Photo / Supplied

In addition to the delivery of their prescription medicines, a team of pharmacists will help monitor the patient's medication adherence and then phone to offer professional care and advice if they identify any issues that the patient might be having in taking their medicines correctly.

Prescriptions will be written by the prescribing GP or nurse and sent directly to the pharmacy for dispensing.

Federated Farmers CEO Terry Copeland said the initiative is part of a larger programme aimed at improving health outcomes for those living in rural areas.

"Having a facility that enables farmers to access pharmaceuticals and prescriptions securely is a real win for the rural community. Rural communities often suffer for choice when sourcing essential services, and Federated Farmers is proud to partner with a local service provider to help meet this aspect of their health care needs".

Pharmacist Din Redzepagic from Zoom Pharmacy, whose company will manage dispensing and delivery of the medication and monitor the patient's adherence to their prescription, said their research shows that farmers may not always follow their doctor's advice - which puts them at risk.


Listen to Andrew Dickens' interview Din Redzepagic on Newstalk ZB early edition below:

"Around a third (30 per cent) of those living in rural New Zealand that we surveyed say they received a prescription from a doctor which they didn't have filled at a chemist.

"Among the most common reasons for not having the script filled was that it was just too inconvenient to get there or they didn't have time (16 per cent) or that they were concerned about possible side effects (20 per cent); something that will be addressed under the new model where a pharmacist will proactively phone them to discuss any concerns.

"In addition, more than half (57 per cent) of those surveyed said they had forgotten to take their prescription medication at some stage," he says.

Redzepagic said they anticipate the new service model will provide long term health benefits for those living in rural areas and plan to expand the programme to include other parts of the community where access to medication is a barrier to health outcomes.