Managing supply issues together

While only a small number of treatments experience supply issues – on average 2 percent a month – minimising the impact on New Zealand is a collective effort.

“Supply challenges are not unique to New Zealand or to health care – they are being felt across the world and across almost every sector,” says Director of Operations Lisa Williams.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war has increased global product demand and affected the workforce, creating challenges. These events have stress tested the supply chain, adding to common issues such as compliance, manufacturing, and transportation.”

“Some supply issues are more difficult to manage or resolve than others, or they might affect people in a more significant way,” says Lisa. “One of the bigger examples of supply issues we managed this year was Accuretic’s product recall.”

In June, Pharmac notified the public that there was a supply issue with the blood pressure medicine Accuretic, which was used by about 36,000 New Zealanders.

“The supplier told us they detected an impurity called nitrosamine in Accuretic, and so it was being withdrawn. This as a global issue, also affecting Australia, the US, and Europe,” says Lisa. “It was a big one – there was limited stock available here, and no identical medicines that people could swap to.”

“So, after receiving this news from the supplier, we worked closely with our health and disability system partners to make sure as many people knew about this change as possible. We advertised through health media, social media, Health Navigator, and made sure resources were available in a range of languages.”

“Our main concern was providing a sense of ‘okay, someone’s watching over this’ to those who had been using Accuretic,” says Lisa.

“A big thanks to our system partners who passed on this information to their patients and supported them to change medication. Our joint mahi meant giving a sense of much needed security to those who rely on blood pressure medication – and who would’ve naturally felt stressed or worried about this supply issue.”

Supply chain challenges are inevitable, and Pharmac appreciates all the work that is being done by suppliers – of medicines, vaccines, and medical devices – as well as pharmacists, primary care providers, Te Whatu Ora, and Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health to help minimise the impact of manufacturing and supply chain issues.