The supplier of alprazolam (Xanax) tablets has informed PHARMAC it will no longer be able to supply alprazolam tablets in New Zealand at the current subsidy.
This means alprazolam will no longer be funded once the current supply of alprazolam runs out.
People taking alprazolam will need to talk to their health care professional about alternative treatments.
Prescribers will need to:
- ensure no new patients are started on alprazolam
- start transitioning patients currently on alprazolam on to alternative treatments.
When will this happen?
1 December 2016 – Alprazolam will not be funded for new patients.
1 March 2017 – The price of alprazolam will increase. Those people who were taking alprazolam before 1 December and are still taking it will pay an extra part payment.
1 September 2017 – Alprazolam will be delisted from the Pharmaceutical Schedule.
What are the funded treatment options?
The clinical advice we have received from the Mental Health Subcommittee of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (one of our expert clinical advisory committees) is that there are several funded anxiolytic benzodiazepines which may be suitable alternatives.
The table below shows the fully-funded medicines listed under the “Anxiolytics” heading in the Pharmaceutical Schedule, which includes several alternative anxiolytic benzodiazepines.
|Clonazepam||500 mcg and 2 mg tablets||Paxam|
|Diazepam||2 mg and 5 mg tablets||Arrow-Diazepam|
|Lorazepam||1 mg and 2.5 mg tablets||Ativan|
|Oxazepam||10 mg and 15 mg tablets||Ox-Pam|
|Buspirone||5 mg and 10 mg tablets||Orion|
Information for prescribers about changing patients
A podcast with Dr Rod Shieff – a general adult psychiatrist – discusses alprazolam and benzodiazepine prescribing, and includes tips on switching a patient from alprazolam if withdrawal is not currently an option. Listen to the Goodfellow Unit podcast.(external link)
The Best Practice Journal has several published articles which may be useful, including articles on generalised anxiety disorder in adults(external link) and overuse of benzodiazepines(external link).
Where can I get more information?
If you have any questions, please contact the supplier of Xanax, Pfizer, on 0800 736 363 or PHARMAC at 0800 66 00 50 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: 19 June 2018