Prescription rule changes embraced by Pacific community

A pharmaceutical rule change during Covid-19 restricting the dispensing of funded community medicine to one month’s supply at a time, has been embraced by the Pacific community, says a senior pharmacist.

Samoan pharmacist Kasey Brown, who is president of the Pacific Pharmacists’ Association and member of the Pasifika Medical Association says the rules are still in place to ensure there is enough medicine for everyone who needs it. While New Zealand has returned to Alert Level 1, overseas medical supply chains continue to be affected by the impact of Covid-19.

“Most of our medication is supplied from overseas. Our supply chain is okay now but we are unsure what is going to happen as other countries are experiencing spikes of Covid-19, so we are just taking a precautionary approach.”

Kasey has observed many Pacific families adapting and embracing the new changes.

“This conversation has forced a lot more communication with our Pasifika community. We want to stress that they only have to pay once and the repeats are free. People have adjusted really well. Our Pasifika community have been amazing.”

PHARMAC, the government agency which funds medicine supply, is working towards a return to all-at-once dispensing. But before that can happen, they must ensure there is enough medicine available in New Zealand and throughout the supply chain.

In the meantime, Kasey says the Pacific Pharmacists’ Association have distributed pamphlets translated into nine Pasifika languages, to keep the community well informed.

“We did this to encourage our Pacific community to use our resources and inform them about what’s happening with the pharmacies around the country, especially during Covid-19 and with their medication.”

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Type 2 diabetic Jason Manumu’a lives in a Tongan household in Ōtāhuhu with two other family members who are also diabetic. They have embraced the change and its benefits.

“The prescriptions are straight forward and it keeps me more on my toes. When it was three monthly, I would forget sometimes to pick up my prescription. But the change to monthly has forced me to be more proactive.”

#pmafamily

Date: Friday 3 July 2020