Delamere Delighted At Pharmac Blood Pressure Success

  • John Delamare
Associate Minister of Health

Associate Minister of Health, Hon Tuariki Delamere, said today he was delighted at the preliminary independent analysis of a major change in the way PHARMAC, the Government's drug-buying agency, subsidises drugs used for the treatment of raised blood pressure.

Last year, the agency reduced the number of ACE inhibitors that are fully subsidised from eight to two.

That reduction was linked to a change programme under which patients were offered up to two subsidised visits to their GP's to discuss their treatment and to monitor the effects of any medication changes.

The results were: 82,325 people claimed the first visit subsidy, 76,033 changed their ACE inhibitor and 58,252 people had the second visit following the change in medication.

At the time of the first visit, more than 3000 patients had blood pressure described as 'uncontrolled'. For 45% of these people, their blood pressure was controlled by the time of the second visit. Twelve hundred people were taken off their medication altogether, as it was not required.

These results have been evaluated by the Dunedin Research Unit of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, which estimates that some 132 major cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks and strokes) may be prevented over the next five years as a result of the change. Professor Murray Tilyard, of the research unit, says this means 132 people will have much better health outcomes because doctors and patients have had the chance to put this treatment under the microscope. "In both health gains and financial gains the ACE inhibitor change management strategy has been a success." Mr Delamere says implementation of the switch has cost the Health Funding Authority about $4.3 million to date, while the change in subsidies will save New Zealand at least $150 million over the next five years.