HNZ: FINAL GUIDANCE: Advance Prescriptions for Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Medicines

HNZ: FINAL GUIDANCE: Advance Prescriptions for Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Medicines

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Please find attached final guidance information on “Advance Prescriptions for Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Medicines”. Note we have used the terminology of “advance prescription” as the sector has multiple interpretations of “back pocket” prescriptions.

This release follows consultation on the draft which was distributed on 22 July.  We have incorporated feedback from that consultation as best we can, to strengthen this guidance to practitioners.

The document provides guidance to support safe and timely access to oral therapeutics for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and poor outcomes. Specifically, it clarifies a process whereby an authorised prescriber can issue an advance prescription to a higher risk person who will meet the eligibility criteria set by Pharmac, if they get COVID-19 in the future. Whilst the antiviral medicines cannot be dispensed unless the person develops COVID-19, the advance prescription means that if the person develops COVID-19, they will have fewer steps to complete to fill the prescription and access the medicine.  In addition, advanced scripts can provide assurance to someone at high risk that they will be able to access these medications when needed.

Advance prescriptions will not be clinically appropriate for some people, and there is no obligation upon the prescriber to issue a prescription if this is the case.  The option of issuing advance prescriptions is one way that timely access to COVID-19 antivirals can be improved for eligible people.

This is part of a suite of changes aimed at improving equity and timeliness of access to COVID-19 antivirals, including:

  1. widening the Pharmac access criteria (implemented 18 July 2022)
  2. re-classifying nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (Paxlovid™) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio®) from “prescription only” to “restricted”, or “pharmacist-only” medicines.

This guidance will be published on the Ministry of Health website  later today.

Ngā mihi nui,

Matt Hannant

Director Outbreak Response | Kaitohu

133 Molesworth Street, Wellington | PO Box 5013, Wellington 6140