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Letter to the editor

Editor, – Regarding your editorial on 'Prescription drug subsidies in Australia and New Zealand' (Aust Prescr 2010;33:2-4), there is a point which is not discussed which greatly reduces costs in New Zealand - that of bulk dispensing. New Zealand allows people with common chronic diseases to have three or six months supply of medicines dispensed at one time, as opposed to the monthly dispensing usual in Australia. This means that a New Zealander with say, high blood pressure, will pay two dispensing fees per year, whereas an Australian will likely pay 12 dispensing fees.

I understand the rationale behind monthly dispensing, but really, does a person who will be taking a drug for the rest of their lives need monthly intervention by a pharmacist, and does this happen in any but a small minority of cases? I have monthly prescriptions for blood pressure medication, and invariably I hand the repeat to an assistant, who hands it to a pharmacist, who types out a label saying 'Take one in the morning', passes it back to the assistant, who puts it in a bag and says to me '$33.30 please'.

Jonathan Rout
A concerned consumer
Redwood Park, SA

Jonathan Rout