Accuretic Users Annoyed by Confusion of Contaminated Blood Pressure Medications
Kathryn George / Stuff
Accuretic was recalled in March in the US and UK, and in April in Australia and Canada.
Confusion persists as Kiwis learn months after the rest of the world that the widely used blood pressure drug Accuretic has been contaminated with a carcinogen.
Although Pharmac has known for “a few months”, it only announced that nitrosamine – a substance thought to increase the risk of cancer if ingested over a prolonged period – had been detected in Accuretic until Thursday morning.
Users are now recommended by Pharmac to consult their GP about an alternative on their next prescription.
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For 77-year-old Accuretic user Colin Barnett, Pharmac’s suppression of the discovery of the contaminant and the mixed advice he has received from medical professionals is “beyond comprehension”.
Having heard about the contamination in the news and having to refill his prescription anyway, Barnett asked the pharmacists at his local Unichem in Taupō what alternative drugs were available.
“Three of the pharmacists came out together and told me it’s only the Accuretic coming out of Australia that’s contaminated and I should continue to take it as I am,” he said.
Pharmac, however, said the contamination is a global problem.
“I know now that this [the pharmacy] told me was simply not true, leaving me to wonder how many other people who go to my pharmacy – let alone all over New Zealand – are still taking a drug that has been recalled in the rest of the world months ago? Barnet asked.
The next day Barnett was asked to return to the pharmacy to discuss alternative medications.
“As far as I’m concerned, this confusion comes from Pharmac. They play games with people’s health and it just isn’t good enough. »
Barnett is “very disappointed” that Pharmac did not contact Accuretic users directly.
“I had to read about it myself in the news and then contact my local medical center, but what if I didn’t read the news? Will I ever know?
An Accuretic user from the Waikanae area, who Things agreed not to name, also received mixed messages from medical professionals.
“As late as June 18, I was notified in writing by the local pharmacy that I would only be receiving supplies for 10 days at a time due to temporary inventory allocation issues.
“Obviously the pharmacies had not been informed of the real reason for the shortage of Accuretic.”
Over the weekend, the Accuretic user was told by the Waikanae Health Center that since her prescription needed to be changed, she would be charged $35 for an urgent script.
Although Pharmac has claimed that those who take Accuretic will receive a “free initial consultation from [their] primary care prescriber,” the Waikanae Health Center said “at this point, this has not been confirmed.”
“The pharmacy created more trouble than necessary, and all of this could have been avoided if they had clearly communicated the issue as soon as they became aware of it,” she said.
COO of Green Cross Health, owner of Unichem, Alison Van Wyk, said Unichem is committed to “supporting patients across New Zealand who are affected by this referring to their doctor”.
Health Minister Andrew Little says Pharmac must align with the rest of the healthcare system.
Wyk added that Green Cross Health apologizes for “any misinterpretations regarding the information provided.”
When asked why New Zealand had been notified of the contamination months after the rest of the world, Pharmac’s chief operating officer Lisa Williams said she wanted to be able to “provide assurances to the New Zealand public that there was an alternative treatment to switch to, rather than telling them there was a problem, but no solution”.
Pfizer did not respond to questions about how, when and where the contamination occurred.