11 Oct 2022

Time to consider changing prescription criteria for ADHD medication - Pharmac chief medical officer

6:30 pm on 11 October 2022
Pharmac’s chief medical officer Dr David Hughes says there is significant global demand for the antiviral drug Paxlovid and it is working with Pfizer to get it into New Zealand as soon as possible.

Pharmac Chief Medical Officer David Hughes said it was time to consider changes to special authority criteria. Photo: Supplied / LDR

Pharmac's chief medical officer says it is time to look at changing the strict criteria for prescribing ADHD medication.

David Hughes was giving evidence at a disciplinary tribunal for GP and attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder expert Tony Hanne, who is accused of prescribing drugs without the approval of a psychiatrist or a paediatrician, as is required by law.

Hughes told the tribunal, "My personal and professional view is that it's time to consider changes to the special authority criteria."

But he stressed no formal work had begun, and that Hanne still broke the law.

Hughes was present at an August meeting between several government agencies which discussed the issue, among other changes to support people with ADHD

The tribunal also heard that Hanne had skirted the rules through an arrangement with now-retired psychiatrist Allan Taylor.

If a patient needed a prescription, Hanne would send a letter to the specialist.

If Taylor did not reply approval was implied. He would contact him only if there was a potential problem and only saw about six of Hanne's patients in person in the twenty years they worked together.

Taylor said he stood by the plan and that he had full confidence in Hanne's expertise, which was much better than most specialists.

Hughes said the arrangement was not good enough and that the two doctors should have communicated about each patient and written approval should have been given.

Hanne claimed Pharmac was aware of the arrangement, and had given implicit permission to continue.

Hughes said that was not the case, but acknowledged Hanne could have misinterpreted a letter from Pharmac as approval.

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