12 March 2021 - Deborah Wilkes
An application to change the status of allopurinol for preventing gout will be considered at the next meeting of New Zealand's Medicines Classification Committee (MCC). Applications involving choline salicylate, hyaluronidase and ibuprofen will also be evaluated.
Natalie Gauld, the switch specialist behind the initiative, told OTCToolbox this was a “first-in-world switch application”.
If the application is successful, allopurinol will be reclassified from a “prescription medicine” to a “prescription medicine except when” provided by pharmacists with special training.
Pharmacists will have to complete gout training with the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand and can only provide the medication to a person who has previously been prescribed allopurinol tablets to prevent gout.
Gauld’s application says the change in classification will make “first-line preventative medication (allopurinol) more accessible to help overcome the low rate of long-term preventative management for gout”.
The application points out that gout affects 13% of people aged 65 years and over in New Zealand, and 6% of people aged 45-64 years. This is in part because of the genetic predisposition to gout in Maaori and Pacific peoples.
“Treatment is usually lifelong but is often stopped early because it is inconvenient to attend the doctor,” adds the application.
The change will apply to 100mg and 300mg tablets for management of primary gout or secondary hyperuricaemia associated with chronic gout.
The application notes that “DP-Allopurinol is the only brand that is currently funded in New Zealand”. It comes in 100mg and 300mg tablets.
Other changes on the agenda
At its next meeting on 11 May 2021, the MCC will also consider an application to reclassify topical oral benzocaine, tetracaine hydrochloride, lidocaine and prilocaine from a prescription medicine to a “prescription except when” classification. The application was submitted by the Dental Council of New Zealand and covers use by oral health therapists and dental therapists registered with the Council.
At the meeting, the MCC will also consider an application from AFT Pharmaceuticals to reclassify 300mg ibuprofen from a prescription medicine to a pharmacy-only medicine for oral use in powder form.
It will also consider an application to reverse-switch hyaluronidase from a general-sale medicine to a prescription medicine. The submission was made by the New Zealand Society of Cosmetic Medicine.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s medicines agency, Medsafe, is seeking the reclassification of choline salicylate from a general-sale medicine to a pharmacy-only medicine. The reclassification would apply to choline salicylate when used for infant teething.