L'homme craintif Taranaki: un changement dans le financement des médicaments ramènera une vie de convulsionsseptembre 16, 2019
For three years now a normal life has cost Nick Coulton $10 every three months. From October those same drugs to control his epilepsy will cost $500 – a sum he cannot afford.
Since 2017 the Taranaki-based 28-year-old has managed his epilepsy, a neurological disorder causing unpredictable seizures, with the help of drug Lamictal.
But on October 1 Pharmac will stop funding the drug, which has allowed Coulton and more than 10,000 other Kiwis to control their epilepsy, and instead will fund Logem, a different, cheaper drug.
Medsafe, New Zealand’s medical regulatory body, initially advised against the switch saying it posed a ‘potential significant safety issue’ and ‘could result in the loss of seizure control’.
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But after Pharmac took its concerns on board and made changes to its proposal Medsafenow considered Pharmac had followed an acceptable process in considering feedback on the consultation.
Regardless, Coulton fears the drug switch will had an adverse affect on his health and see him experience an increase in seizures.
Before Lamictal, Coulton, a teacher aide, did not work for two years, often experiencing up to 30 seizures a day.
It’s taken years to get to the place he is now, as well as a trial and error of different drugs, one of which made him put on 30 kilos, he said.
« The last three years have been rock-steady and the best I have felt health wise and head wise, and then to get told it’s going to get taken away. It just seems so stupid just to save a couple of bucks. »
The switch will free up more than $30 million over the next five years for Pharmac to fund other drugs.
Unlike other countries, New Zealand’s drug-buying budget is capped. Pharmac usually makes about 60 brand switches a year to save money.
A petition, which gained almost 2000 signatures, was started on the Parliament website in hopes of getting Pharmac to continue funding Lamictal.
The stress of waiting and the unknown hasn’t helped his epilepsy, Coulton said.
« This happens to a lot of different medications and I’ve only heard about it because it’s my one.
« It’s strange knowing things can just get taken away like that. »
Medsafe said it would be working closely with the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring after the switch so if patients experienced problems they could report them and Medsafe would review.
A Pharmac spokesperson said Logem worked the same way as Lamictal and if patients had problems following the switch they could go to their GP and Pharmac would cover the costs.
It will also consider applications to continue on specific brands if due to exceptional clinical difficulties a person cannot manage the switch or they have tried and not tolerated it.
The spokesperson said data for 2018 showed 50 per cent of those collecting a funded prescription for lamotrigine, of which Lamictal is one of the brands, would have changed brands since they started on it.
« If our expert clinical advisors said it wasn’t appropriate, we wouldn’t have made the change, regardless of the savings we could achieve. »