Rare Disorders NZ is extremely frustrated that the Government is scrapping all remaining COVID-19 restrictions while Pharmac is still in the process of deciding whether to widen the access criteria for COVID-19 antivirals.
Currently the access criteria for COVID-19 antivirals exclude many groups of people who would be vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19, including many in the rare disorder community.
Rare Disorders NZ wrote to Pharmac in February requesting a review to widen the access criteria, and while they are pleased to see this finally underway with a proposal put forward by Pharmac to change access criteria, the consultation period does not close until 21 August. While Pharmac has indicated that any changes resulting from this proposal may be implemented sooner than 1 October, there will still be at least several weeks where vulnerable groups will be put at an unnecessary increased risk of infection.
“It is concerning to us that this decision could not have been postponed for a few more weeks to ensure the most vulnerable groups have access to the protection they need before they are put at increased risk of exposure,” says James McGoram, Chair of Rare Disorders NZ.
“We wrote to the Minister of Health only yesterday after learning late last week that an easing of restrictions was likely towards the end of the month, to express our concern and ask for assurance that the Government would wait with any announcements until access to antivirals had been widened. The most vulnerable must always be at the forefront of these kinds of decisions.”