Change to monthly dispensing
PHARMAC has changed Pharmaceutical Schedule rules that restrict the dispensing of funded community medicines to just one month's supply at a time.
Page last updated: 27 March 2020
Community pharmacists are required to limit dispensing of all funded medicines to one month's supply (or three months for oral contraceptives).
Patients will not pay more than they normally would. There is no charge for picking up the monthly repeats.
The $5 co-payment for the first dispensing on the prescription remains. If your medicine is fully funded, this is all you will pay.
We did not make this decision lightly, as we know the end result will be that people will potentially have to visit pharmacies more often. However, despite consistent messaging, stockpiling behaviour has not slowed down.
Stockpiling is putting at risk the fair and equitable distribution of medicines and ongoing access for those New Zealanders that need treatment.
Information for pharmacists and prescribers
We know you will be concerned about the health and wellbeing of your patients. You play an important frontline role in our communities and are responsible for ensuring your patients are prescribed and dispensed the medicines they need. We appreciate the work that you do.
We are actively engaging with suppliers about contingency plans and we will continue to update our website with information as the situation evolves.
Use rule 4.2.2 to start dispensing monthly lots immediately
This allows pharmacists to dispense in monthly lots immediately.
Use rule 4.4.2 to dispense in 3 monthly lots, only where appropriate
Pharmacists can use this rule to support social distancing. Pharmacists remain able to make exceptions to dispense up to three-months supply for certain people. Specifically people who:
- have mobility issues
- live rurally
- are immunocompromised
- are elderly
Information for patients
We know that the change to monthly dispensing means you may need to go to your community pharmacy more often, but this measure is meant to help ensure everyone can continue to access the medicines they need.
You will not have to pay more for picking up your monthly repeats. The $5 co-payment for the first dispensing on the prescription remains.
You can have your prescriptions picked up by someone else if you are in isolation or have other mobility issues. Some pharmacies may also deliver your prescription. You will need to discuss the cost for this service with your pharmacy.
There are no changes to the way prescriptions are written, you won’t need to visit your prescriber more often.
Despite there being no significant medicine shortages in New Zealand, stockpiling is putting a major strain on supply chains.
Unlike supermarkets that can re-stock from New Zealand manufacturers, medicines are mostly sourced from overseas suppliers. This makes it more difficult to re-stock quickly.
We are moving to monthly dispensing to ensure remaining medicines stocks in wholesalers, distributors and community pharmacies are appropriately managed.
We need to ensure that every New Zealander will continue to have access to the medicines they need and that vulnerable communities don’t miss out.
What is PHARMAC doing
We are working with all our providers – both medicine suppliers and medical device suppliers – to minimise any impacts on the general supply chain of manufacturing disruptions caused by shutdowns.
The Ministry of Health is in a coordinating role and is helping us understand what might be needed over and above what we already have.The impact of COVID-19 is likely to have global implications for medicine manufacture and supply chains for the remainder of 2020 and potentially beyond. PHARMAC will continue to monitor the situation carefully.
PHARMAC will continue to work with our suppliers and the National Health Coordination Centre (Ministry of Health) to ensure that our healthcare providers – both in the community and in hospitals – have the medicines and medical devices they will need should there be more cases of COVID-19.
Who to contact
If you have questions about this change, email email@example.com
Last updated: 27 March 2020