Lamotrigine correspondence

OIA response

Request dated Friday 12 April 2019  for information relating to the decision to move to one funded brand of lamotrigine.

15 May 2019

[Name and contact details redacted]

Dear [Name redacted]


Thank you for your request dated Friday 12 April 2019 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to the decision to move to one funded brand of lamotrigine. 

You asked for all correspondence in any form received by PHARMAC in response to the RFP – supply of lamotrigine chewable/dispersible tablets 14 June 2018. You asked for this to exclude correspondence received from NZ pharmaceutical companies. With tender bids out of scope of your request, I can confirm that PHARMAC has not received any other correspondence relating to the RFP.

You also asked for all correspondence in any form received by PHARMAC in response to the proposal to move to one funded brand of lamotrigine (Logem) consultation letter dated 29 August 2018.

PHARMAC received 31 responses to the consultation – ten from healthcare professionals, 17 from consumers, three from suppliers, and one from Medsafe. We have included these in our response to you. [PDF, 20 MB]  A small amount of this information has been withheld as explained further below.

We are not sending you reference articles that were submitted as part of the consultation as they are subject to copyright and are already publicly available (this is in accordance with section 18(d) of the OIA). You are, of course, able to search these yourself. They are as follows:

  • The impact on health outcomes and healthcare utilisation of switching to generic medicines consequent to reference pricing: the case of lamotrigine in New Zealand. By Charon Lessing, Toni Ashton and Peter Davis
  • Generic antiepileptic drugs – safe or harmful in patients with epilepsy? By Martin Holtkamp and William H Theodore

Finally, you asked for correspondence and a copy of any data relied upon in relation to the dispensing data provided by PHARMAC to the joint Neurological and Mental Health Subcommittee meeting held on 7 February 2019 that indicates that 52% of patients with epilepsy receiving lamotrigine and 46% of patients receiving lamotrigine for other indications in New Zealand in 2018 have changed brands previously at the pharmacy level.  I have enclosed the data (data 1 [XLSX, 16 MB] and data 2 [XLSX, 17 MB]) for your information. Other than OIA requests [name redacted] submitted previously, we have not had any correspondence related to this.

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 (and withheld one consumer submission in full) as we consider this is necessary to:

  • protect the privacy of natural persons (section 9(2)(a)); and
  • 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)).

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 this information answers your queries.  We are making our information more freely available, so we will now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website.  Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this.

Yours sincerely

[Alison Hill's signature]

Alison Hill
Director, Engagement and Implementation