Gout insights – Impact on Māori

Gout is a form of arthritis and a life-long condition that significantly affects people’s lives and wellbeing.

Biological factors for Māori (such as genetic variants and kidney disease) mean they are twice as likely to live with gout compared to non-Māori, non-Pacific people.

Media release: New report estimates 10,400 more Māori should be on preventive treatment for gout

About the insights report

This report focuses on the prescribing and dispensing of medicines for gout. It’s the first in a series of insights developed by Pharmac to implement our Medicine Access Equity Monitoring and Outcomes Framework.

Download the full data insights

These insights will be particularly useful for the health system, including health practitioners, health workers, and policy makers. We know there are systemic and societal influences that we need to address to achieve equitable outcomes. Research like this allows us all to better understand the problem.

An estimated 10,400 more Māori need to be prescribed urate-lowering medicine each year

Preventive gout medicines work. Being prescribed the right dose of urate-lowering medicine regularly can improve people’s lives dramatically.

To achieve equity of access to medicines, we estimate about 10,400 more Māori a year should be started on a preventive gout medicine by their health professional.

Graph illustrates the unmet health need for Māori with gout..
Number of Māori dispensed preventive gout medicine compared to need in 2018/19

While 6% of the Māori population are being dispensed preventive gout medicine (compared to 3% of non-Māori, non-Pacific people), this is still not enough based on our analysis.

We used hospitalisation data to assess potential unmet health need. Māori are 6.9 times more likely to be hospitalised with gout compared to non-Māori, non-Pacific people.

Māori with gout are prescribed NSAIDs at nearly twice the rate of non-Māori, non-Pacific peoples..
Percentage of population 20+ dispensed any preventive gout medicine and a NSAID 2014-2020 by ethnicity

Treating the symptom not the cause

Māori are prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) at a higher rate compared to non-Māori, non-Pacific peoples.

NSAIDs can help with pain when gout flares up. However, NSAIDs don’t treat the cause of gout – the build-up of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid forms crystals in joints causing pain and damage to the joint.

What’s more, long-term use of NSAIDs causes harm, such as by contributing to kidney damage and cardiovascular disease.

Who to contact

Find out more about our methodology

If you have questions or feedback about our data, email accessequity@pharmac.govt.nz