29 Nov 2023

End-of-life doctors warning over critical morphine stock

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 29 November 2023
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Photo: 123rf.com

Palliative care doctors are warning of a difficult five months ahead as stocks of the most used liquid morphine run out.

Around 1400 people every month use the 1 mili-gram per 1 mili-litre formulation, which is an essential pain drug.

But stocks are dwindling and expected to run out in December, due to the manufacturer, Pfizer, closing the factory in Australia that makes it Pfizer gave Pharmac two years' notice, but Pharmac says it has been unable to source an alternative.

It says it should have a resupply of the 1 milligram per 1 mililtre formulation from April next year, but in the meantime, doctors will have to give a double strength dose, which patients will have to manage. But end-of-life doctors say the situation is unacceptable, and they're concerned for patient safety.

Kathryn speaks with Dr Delamy Keall Senior Medical Officer,  Palliative Medicine at Palmerston North Hospital and Arohanui Hospice; Wayne Naylor, Chief Executive of Hospice New Zealand and Palliative care specialist from Pharmac's Analgesic Advisory Committee, Dr Catherine D'Souza.