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Published: 5 February, 2021


New articles on the bpacnz website

We have now published the new articles from eBPJ1 individually on our website. This means you can more easily search for information within the articles and download them as individual pdfs. You can still read the articles as a collection in eBPJ1, along with other great content.

We hope those of you who managed to secure yourself a printed copy of BPJ are enjoying your new read.

Reminder; the new articles are:

Plus a bonus new article published online first – "Benzodiazepines and zopiclone: is overuse still an issue?"

New Zealand Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy regimens

Te Aho o Te Kahu (Cancer Control Agency) in association with the New Zealand Formulary are proud to announce the launch of the New Zealand Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) regimens. The SACT Regimen Library is a national database of chemotherapy treatment definitions that have been developed and endorsed by the clinical community. The objective of the SACT Regimen Library is to standardise the naming of treatment protocols to better understand how chemotherapy is being delivered in New Zealand. This in turn will help to identify ways to improve access to care, treatment and outcomes and reduce inequities in care for people with cancer.

The NZF hosts the SACT Regimen Library and manages its daily operation. The first of the SACT regimens were published on February 4th, 2021- World Cancer Day. The full library will be progressively rolled out over the next 12 months, with the initial focus on bowel, lung, breast and prostate cancers.

Click here for further information about this project.

NZF updates - February release

New sections added to the NZF in February, 2021, include:

  • A major update of the Asthma section to align with the 2020 NZ Adolescent and Adult Asthma Guidelines, creating an easily accessible resource that includes the Step-up Step-down treatment algorithms and recommended total daily doses
  • New monographs added for empagliflozin and empagliflozin + metformin which were funded from 1 February, 2021
  • The adverse events section of drug monographs now contains a direct link to the Centre for Adverse Reaction Monitoring (CARM) reporting website. Anyone can make a CARM report, even if it is only a suspicion of an adverse reaction.  For more information, see: The fantastic four of adverse drug reaction reporting (

MARC vacancies

The Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee (MARC) is an independent expert advisory committee that provides advice to the Minister of Health on medicines safety issues.

MARC is seeking applications for four vacancies suitable for the following health professionals:

  • Specialist clinician, e.g. in paediatrics, general medicine, cardiology or oncology
  • Rural-based general practitioner
  • Nurse
  • Clinical pharmacist working in hospital practice

Appointments to the Committee are for a three-year term.

Applications close on Friday, 19th February, 2021. Further information and an application form are available here.

Further general information about MARC is available here.

Medicines supply issues

PHARMAC continues to regularly update the workforce on medicine funding and supply issues. Current medicines affected by COVID-19-related manufacturing and shipping delays include:

  • Aqueous cream – The 500 g tub of the funded brand of aqueous cream is out of stock due to shipping delays. There is an alternative product available which will be listed on the schedule but not available until mid-February.
  • Diltiazem – The manufacturer (Douglas) is discontinuing the currently funded brand of immediate release diltiazem hydrochloride tablets (Dilzem). The 30 mg tablets are already out of stock and the 60 mg tablets are expected to be out of stock by approximately July. Both products will be delisted after July, 2021. Patients who are currently taking either of these tablets will need to be prescribed an alternative medicine, either a long-acting form of diltiazem or an alternative funded calcium channel blocker.
  • Paracetamol continues to be in short supply on a global basis and dispensing restrictions remain in place. There will be changes to the funded brands over a six-month transition period beginning in June, 2021.
  • Many other medicines that have been subject to ongoing supply issues over the last few months are now back in stock, such as the majority of brands of oral contraceptives, however, others continue to experience supply issues, e.g. some strengths of oestradiol patches (25 microgram and 50 microgram patches) are available again but there is a shortage of 75 microgram patches.

COVID-19 vaccine training

The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) has been contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide training for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination programme. Training is expected to start in February, 2021 for all vaccinators administering any of the COVID-19 vaccines. For further information and to subscribe to the IMAC newsletter to be notified when the course is available click here.

The Ministry of Health is also seeking expressions of interest from healthcare professionals who are retired or not currently working in the health sector who could train as vaccinators for the programme. This includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other health professionals with vaccination as part of their scope of practice (e.g. dentists, physiotherapists).

Paper of the week: COVID-19 vaccines will be as challenging to deliver as they were to develop

For those wishing to dive deeper into the complexities of a global roll-out of vaccines for COVID-19, the BMJ has published an editorial, profiling two papers that "illustrate the considerable scale and complexity of manufacturing, purchasing, distributing, and administering covid-19 vaccines in a way that meets global needs, and does so equitably among nations and populations".

Read the full editorial here

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