Why the repeats?

By: Tania Adams

If you get prescriptions for regular medications from the pharmacy, you might have been surprised that you now have to pick up any three monthly prescriptions in monthly lots or ‘repeats’.

Firstly, you need to know that that you will only be charged a prescription tax on your first month. The second and third month’s repeat of medications do not incur any Government tax (unless there is a part charge). So you won’t be paying any more than before by getting these repeats.

A fair question about this change, is why, given that we are at Alert Level 1, are pharmacies still giving out a limited supply? The answer is that all pharmacies have been directed to do so by our governing body Pharmac. This is because of continued upsets to our supply chain.

While we are lucky to be in Level 1, the countries where our medications are manufactured such as India, China and the United States are not. There is also the issue of transport. Medications are usually sent to New Zealand inside the cargo hold of passenger planes. With little or no flights, the Government has been scrambling to make sure we get medications delivered to New Zealand. Monthly prescriptions with repeats therefore enable us to guarantee supply to all customers for their regular medication over the next months.

Which pharmacy you choose to take your original prescription or have it sent to is important, as the repeats of your medication will have to also be dispensed from the same pharmacy. This is due to regulations under New Zealand law. It is therefore important that the pharmacy is convenient to you for your second and third repeat.

You can sign up for Pharminder, which a free service that sends a reminder to you by text just before your repeat medication is due. This also enables you to reply back to the pharmacy to request that your repeat be dispensed. Many local pharmacies also have a delivery service available.

So when will this change? Some people had already received prescriptions in monthly lots before the Covid-19 lockdown, and for these people, repeats will not change. For others, Pharmac will continue to review the situation and, as soon as possible, we will revert back to three-monthly prescriptions.

However, it is likely that some medications will continue to have supply issues and Pharmac may need to continue restrictions for those particular medications where it is necessary to protect the supply.

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