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Published: 8 April, 2022


New article - Weight loss: the options and the evidence

The jury is in – there is no consistent evidence that any one calorie-restricted diet is better than another at achieving weight loss. The overriding principle is simply that "energy in" needs to be less than "energy out". Of course, there are many reasons why one dietary approach may be better than another for an individual patient depending on their co-morbidities, and certainly there is evidence that a plant-based whole foods diet is a better choice for the environment. However, weight loss is a personal journey and what motivates one patient may not be the same for another. We present the options and the evidence from different dietary approaches to pharmacological treatments and surgery.

Read more here

Oral antiviral now available for select patients with COVID-19 in the community

Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir with ritonavir) is an oral antiviral treatment that can be prescribed for patients with COVID-19 in the community who are at risk of severe disease and who meet specific treatment criteria. Nirmatrelvir works by inhibiting the main protease (enzyme) in SARS-CoV-2 that is responsible for viral replication. Ritonavir inhibits metabolism of nirmatrelvir, resulting in increased plasma concentrations.

Treatment consists of taking separate tablets of nirmatrelvir (2 x 150 mg) and ritonavir (1 x 100 mg), twice daily for five days. This dose requires adjustment for patients with moderate renal impairment. Treatment should be initiated within five days of symptom onset.

Further information for health professionals is available from:

Flu season has begun

A reminder that resources for health professionals on the 2022 Influenza Vaccination Programme can be found here:

PHARMAC recently confirmed that the eligibility criteria for funded influenza vaccination would be extended to Māori and Pacific peoples aged 55-64 years. Read more here.

Two common questions that patients may have:

  • Can I have an influenza vaccination at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccination? Yes
  • Can I have an influenza vaccination if I have had COVID-19? Yes, as soon as you have recovered

Reclassification of pholcodine

Medafe has announced that from 1 December, 2022, any medicine containing pholcodine must be sold as a restricted (pharmacist only) medicine and held in the pharmacist only section of pharmacies. Pholcodine is currently classified as a pharmacy only medicine, i.e. it can be selected off the shelf from a pharmacy.

This decision follows advice from the Medicines Adverse Reaction Committee and the Medicines Classification Committee due to potential safety concerns around the use of this medicine in the absence of pharmacist guidance.

Further information on the decision can be found here (refer to the minutes from the 64th and 65th meetings).

Reminder: API withdrawal from the New Zealand market

API Consumer Brands is closing its Auckland Manufacturing plant and therefore medicines it currently supplies in New Zealand will no longer be available. This affects several funded medicines, including paracetamol, codeine, methadone and citalopram. PHARMAC has been working to find new suppliers for these medicines. A table of affected products is available here and will be regularly updated as new brands are secured.

National consensus guideline for treatment of postpartum haemorrhage

Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is a significant cause of perinatal morbidity in New Zealand. The Ministry of Health has released a national consensus guideline with the aim of highlighting early recognition of PPH, standardising care and advice and improving outcomes, including equity for Māori. The guideline is intended for any health professionals who are involved in pregnancy, birth or postpartum care.

New Zealand Formulary updates for April

Significant changes to the NZF in the April, 2022, release include:

Paper of the Week: We won't all get COVID

"Don't worry about going to < insert public place, crowded event, someone's currently infected household > we're all going to get COVID anyway".

Can we have a show of hands of who has heard some variation of this conversation in the past few months? There seems to be an air of inevitability that it is only a matter of time until COVID-19 pays a visit to us all, and many of course have played host already. However, the reality is that a large proportion of people in New Zealand are not going to contract the virus.

This Bulletin is supported by the South Link Education Trust

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