The Herald reports:
The National Party has intensified its call for a ministerial inquiry into Pharmac’s decision to switch its funded epilepsy drug to Logem – which is suspected to be linked to five deaths.
National health spokesman Michael Woodhouse today released a statement again calling for a ministerial inquiry into Pharmac’s October 1 decision to change to a generic form of epilepsy drug lamotrigine.
“The tragic news that it’s suspected to have caused the death of a young father just before Christmas, as well as four deaths reported earlier in 2019, suggests the brand switch put lives at risk,” Woodhouse said.
“Medsafe and patients raised concerns about the switch before it went ahead.”
A Government spokesperson responded to the comments from Woodhouse by emphasising the matter was currently being looked into by the Coroner.
“Any sudden death is a tragedy and my sympathies are with the family and friends,” the spokesperson said.
“These deaths are being investigated by the Coroner, and in the meantime Pharmac has made changes to the way the brand change is being managed.”
Woodhouse also questioned Health Minister David Clark’s knowledge of the risks of Logem, after it was revealed Pharmac knew for more than two weeks that three deaths had been linked to its epilepsy drug brand switch but didn’t tell patients or the public.
It is possible the deaths had nothing to do with the change in drugs, but with five people dead I would have thought an independent inquiry into it would be warranted.