OIA Response: Oxycodone and opioid use

Request dated 29 March 2019 for information relating to oxycodone and the use of opioids.

10 May 2019

[Name and contact details redacted]

Kia ora [Name redacted]

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

Thank you for your request dated 29 March 2019 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to oxycodone and the use of opioids. I apologise for the delay in getting this information to you and thank you for your understanding of the one-week extension.

You asked for statistics on codeine-based painkillers as well as any other opioids, which may include tramadol, codeine, fentanyl and oxycodone. We have provided data on dispensing of opioids to you in the attached excel spreadsheet [XLSX, 11 KB]. The data is for the period of 2009 to 2018 (calendar years). This information includes only the number of funded prescriptions dispensed of each medicine (chemical) each year. If two (or more) strengths of a medicine are dispensed to the same person, this would be counted as two (or more) prescriptions.

Prescriptions for Class B Controlled Drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone can be for a maximum of one month’s supply. Prescriptions for other painkillers such as codeine or tramadol can be for up to three months’ supply.

We do not hold information on unfunded prescriptions dispensed, or prescriptions written, but not dispensed and claimed by a community pharmacy.

If you are wanting additional data relating to funded prescriptions, you can access information on https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/datapharm-beta/, the Ministry of Health’s Data Pharm site.

Your OIA request also noted that you are interested in the process that enabled oxycodone to be funded and requested the following information:

• Any summary reports, briefing papers or memos setting out the issue at hand and the reason for PHARMAC's decision.
• Any objections or warning submissions from groups or individuals
• A summary of the drug company's application.

We can provide to you the following documents: 

Brief Synopsis of the Submission to the Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Advisory Committee for Independent Pricing of OxyContin on the PHARMAC Pharmaceutical Schedule [PDF, 9.2 MB]
Memorandum for Board Meeting of 29 June 2005 [PDF, 1.1 MB]
Appendix 1 - Provisional Agreement between PHARMAC and Mundipharma New Zealand Ltd [PDF, 2.8 MB]
Appendix 2 - Consultation letter and responses [PDF, 2.8 MB]

Please note that PHARMAC approaches its assessment of requests for information under the OIA on the basis that, once released, the information becomes publicly available - in other words once we release the information to you it becomes available to any other party in that exact form (whether by you distributing it to others or by virtue of us receiving the same request from a different third party). We have redacted a small amount of information from the documents as we consider this is necessary to:

• protect the privacy of natural persons (section 9(2)(a));
• protect information where the making available of the information would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information (section 9(2)(b)(ii));
• protect information which is subject to an obligation of confidence or which any person has been or could be compelled to provide under the authority of any enactment, where the making available of the information would be likely to prejudice the supply of similar information, or information from the same source, and it is in the public interest that such
information should continue to be supplied (section 9(2)(ba)(i)); and
• enable PHARMAC to carry on, without prejudice or disadvantage, negotiations, including commercial negotiations (section 9(2)(j)).

As required under the OIA, we also considered whether, in the circumstances, the withholding of this information was outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable, in the public interest, to make this information available. In this case we did not consider that the public interest outweighed the reasons for withholding the information.
Please note you have the right, by way of complaint under section 28(3) of the OIA to an Ombudsman, to seek an investigation and review of our decision.

We trust that the provision of these documents answers your queries, if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us again.

Please note that you have the right, by way of complaint under section 28(3) of the OIA to an Ombudsman, to seek an investigation and review of our decision.

Thank you for your understanding and interest in our work.

Yours sincerely

[Alison Hill's signature]

Alison Hill
Director, Engagement and Implementation