Midazolam prescriptions dispensed annually from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 2021

OIA response

Thank you for your request under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA), transferred by the Ministry of Health to Pharmac on 9 March 2022, for information relating to midazolam. Questions two to four of your request were transferred to us for response. You requested: 

  • Please provide the date on which NZ (via Medsafe and Ministry of Health) first purchased Midazolam, and the subsequent purchases too.
  • Please provide the answers to question 2 above, and break it down into DHB, Private and other purchases.
  • Please provide this information on an annual basis through to today. 

I am pleased to provide you with information for your request. Please find data for your request attached with this letter. Additionally, please see below for contextual information about the funding of medicines in New Zealand. 

You may be aware that Pharmac is the government agency that decides which pharmaceuticals will be publicly funded. Funded medicines are listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule.(external link) Pharmac was established in 1993 and midazolam was listed to the Pharmaceutical Schedule in 1994. 

Generally, Pharmac does not purchase medicines. DHB hospitals and pharmacies are responsible for purchasing the medicines necessary for their patients and claiming reimbursement for the cost of providing the treatments. Midazolam is listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule and is funded through this process. 

Prior to Pharmac’s establishment, the Ministry of Health was responsible for the supply of funded medicines in New Zealand. I understand the Ministry is set to respond to your questions about the purchase and use of midazolam prior to Pharmac’s establishment. 

Data provided for your request

We have provided data for your request from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 2021. 

We have not provided data for prescriptions dispensed prior to 1 January 1999 as the historical data held is incomplete (that is, complete dispensing records are not held) (section 18(g)(i) of the OIA) and retrieving the historic data that is held would require extensive research and collation (section 18(f) of the OIA). 

Additionally, we are unable to provide data for medicines purchased privately (that is, medicines which are not funded by Pharmac) as we do not hold this information and we do not believe any other agency or department holds this information (section 18(g)(i) of the OIA). 

Finally, where fewer than 10 prescriptions were dispensed, we have changed the number displayed to <10 and provided a range for the Grand Totals as we feel this is necessary to protect the privacy of those persons (section 9(2)(a) of the OIA). 

This is because we approach requests for information under the OIA on the basis that 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). 

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 now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this.