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Revealed: Adverse drug reactions cost taxpayers quarter of a billion

Pill graphicBetween 2015/16 and 2017/18, DHBs spent $280 million treating patients due to adverse drug reactions, reveals the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union in its final health productivity briefing paper.

It’s seriously concerning that taxpayers spent $280 million in three years dealing with botched prescriptions and incorrect use of medication. That’s the equivalent of 10 flag referendums, or $150 per household. DHBs need more discipline in setting and meeting targets to ensure drugs are correctly prescribed and patients understand how and when their prescriptions.

This problem needs to be addressed not just for the sake of patients, but for taxpayers who are forecast to be absolutely hammered by rising demands on healthcare services.

Some DHBs are much worse than others. Canterbury DHB alone spent $60 million treating those with adverse drug reactions across the three year period. Waikato DHB spent nearly $40 million.

There needs to be further investigation at Counties-Manakau DHB over treatment related to adverse drug reactions. Their reported rate of treatment and total spend related to adverse drug reactions is much lower than you would expect for a DHB treating such a large population. If their reported data is correct, they are performing extremely well, but they may also not be correctly recording treatment data.

The information was obtained under the Official Information Act and has been released as part of a serious of briefing papers, linked here.


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