Independent review of lamotrigine sole supply decision by PHARMAC

Media release Medicines

An independent review on the lamotrigine sole-supply decision has found that PHARMAC’s processes were evidence based and robust, and of a high standard.

The review was published on the PHARMAC website today and shared with people who had been engaging with PHARMAC about the lamotrigine sole-supply decision.

“We commissioned an independent review by Jonathan Coates at Claro Law to consider whether our decision making and implementation processes for the lamotrigine sole supply decision were appropriate,” says PHARMAC’s chief executive Sarah Fitt. “The review also looked at what could be improved for future brand changes.” 

The reviewer acknowledged that the PHARMAC Board had sufficient evidence to make the decision to move to one brand of lamotrigine.

The review noted that it would have been preferable if PHARMAC had sought further input from its Pharmacological and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC), most likely through PTAC’s Subcommittees, at a time closer to the issuing of the Request for Proposal.  

It also noted that PHARMAC should have involved its Consumer Advisory Committee in the decision making and implementation processes. PHARMAC already has work underway to understand how we could better incorporate consumer voices in our work and the review’s findings will influence future work planned in this area.

“We are pleased with the findings, but we are always looking to improve our work. This review confirms that we need to focus more on consumer input, improving how we incorporate their views into our decisions,” says Ms Fitt.

PHARMAC has already started to address areas where improvements can be made. Work underway includes reviewing the role of the Consumer Advisory Committee, refreshing the PHARMAC website so consumers can find information easier and the information is easier to understand. PHARMAC is also exploring how they can interact directly with consumers about brand changes on social media.

The review noted that the role played by the media in reporting on brand changes is significant; and there may be work PHARMAC can do to improve public understanding of the basis of PHARMAC’s decision making.

“We are keen to work with media to make sure that they are receiving the information they need to report accurately to the public, while also noting the significant responsibility they have in ensuring the public are provided with balanced information that doesn’t cause undue concern,” concludes Ms Fitt.

Read the Independent Review of PHARMAC’s Lamotrigine Sole Supply Decision