by Chris Tobin
Timaru residents are being asked to take part in a study about medicines.
The University of Otago is conducting research to find out whether giving people free medicines can improve their health.
“We’ll be recruiting a lot of people – half will pay and the other half won’t,” Prof Pauline Norris, of the University of Otago, said.
As a way of encouragement she said those who had to pay for their medicine would receive a grocery voucher at the end.
Prof Norris said, under the present system, people paid $5 for each item of prescription medicine starting from February 1 each year. Once 20 items were reached in that same year, no charge would be made.
“We want to know, if they didn’t pay, what the effect would be on their health.
“We’ve done other research in which people have told us they went without medicine because of the cost.
“Pharmacists tell us people only take some items on a big prescription list that they have been given.”
The “Free Meds Study” will begin in February next year involving 2000 people from around the country. It is being funded by the Health Research Council and the Government’s medicine agency, Pharmac.
Those eligible must be aged 18 and older, live in specific areas of Timaru and have to be taking medicine for type 2 diabetes and/or an anti-psychotic medicine, for example, quetiapine.
People who are interested in taking part can find out today at The Community House, Strathallan St, Timaru, (12.30 to 5pm), and Ashbury Pharmacy next to the Pak’n Save supermarket on Friday (9am-1pm).