Changes in ADHD prescribing regulations, funding is still ongoing

A change in New Zealand’s drug regulations means people with ADHD may be able to get drugs for up to three months at a time, but funding for the change is still in the works.

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick told the Herald that they succeeded in amending the “Frankenstein Misuse of Drugs Act Prescriptions” in November to allow longer electronic prescriptions for certain ADHD drugs.

The problem was that this amendment was taken over by the Pharmac Schedule, which limits the amount of funding for a controlled drug to just one month’s supply per prescription. In practice, this meant that while people could get longer prescriptions, they could only get the first one. ” month subsidized.

“Many found that with the extra $100 or so for the three-month prescription, they actually weren’t much better off.”

Swarbrick said increasing the accessibility and affordability of ADHD treatment, including medication, was one of the key commitments of the hui she teamed up with ADHD NZ in August last year to come together and host in parliament.

“This is something we’ve been working on for several months now and I’m excited to see it finally happen, despite a few fishhooks in our archaic legislation governing this area.”

She told the New Zealand Herald there was a deep, sad irony in the way people with ADHD have to go through a “mental gymnasium” that’s completely at odds with their brains “to access the treatment that helps them do just those kinds of tasks.”

In a statement, Lisa Williams, Pharmac’s director of operations, said the Department of Health has asked Pharmac not to make any changes to its pharmaceutical schedule rules while it is in the process of reviewing the regulations.

“This means that for funded drugs that are class B controlled drugs, only the dispensed amounts specified in the current Schedule Rules will be funded.

“Once the ministry has made decisions on the regulations following the consultation process, we will work with them to assess whether any changes to the scheme rules need to be made.”

A spokesperson for Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health, said some clinicians have expressed concerns following the changes about the potential impact on prescribing opioids, many of which are class B controlled drugs.

“Manatū Hauora decided to review existing controls, including regulations, to ensure they are appropriate to allow safe access to opioid drugs.”

To aid in this assessment, they said a cross-agency group was set up with representatives from Manatū Hauora, Te Aka Whai Ora, Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, Pharmac and the Health Quality and Safety Commission.

“The review, due for completion in April, has already identified a number of priority areas for improving safe access to opioids. This includes further regulatory changes, but also some longer-term system improvements that could help us better manage controlled drug prescribing in the future. Manatū Hauora has begun to engage more broadly with a number of possible options.”

In an email to Swarbrick last month, Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said the regulatory change was made to reduce the number of times people with ADHD need to contact a prescriber to request a repeat prescription or schedule an appointment. to make.

“The change has been proposed by specialist mental health service providers, who recognize that the need for prescriptions on a regular basis can be a burden for people with ADHD and for the workload of health professionals.”

Verrall has been approached for comment.