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Prescriptions and MedicationsBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
New Zealand - Prescriptions and Medications
The government organisation Pharmac is responsible for determining which medications are available and which will be subsidised by the government.
The standard cost for a prescription in New Zealand is $15. Medications which are not subsidised by the government can cost a little more. Those who qualify for public health services and disability benefits should only pay $3 per prescription. Specialist prescriptions may be charged at the higher rate of $15. Prescriptions that have been issued for children under the age of 6 years are usually free of charge. Over the counter medications are not subsidised and consumers need to pay the full cost. It is possible for a person to obtain a pharmaceutical subsidy card for themselves and other members of the family to get prescription medication at a lower rate. This is not means tested and is aimed at those who may need regular medication but who do not have any other card for discounted services such as the CSC or the HUHC. The pharmacist is able to issue one of these cards when the family has had 20 prescriptions which have been paid for, even if they were subsidised medications.
It is usual for pharmacies to have only one professional pharmacist. As in the UK you are able to take advice on medications from the pharmacist for some conditions, but not all staff are qualified to advise you.
It should be noted that some pharmacists charge an ‘intervention fee’ if the customer wants a subsidised medication rather than the brand that has been prescribed by the doctor. This is normally in the region of $1 per prescription, but there are many pharmacists who do not make this charge. In some areas the local pharmacist will deliver the medication to your home, although you will pay an additional fee for this.
Most areas have pharmacies which are open during normal shopping hours, from 8 am to 6 pm. There are also out of hours services in some areas which are open until 10 pm.
Pharmacies use different symbols in New Zealand, ranging from the cross to the pestle and mortar and the ‘Rx’ prescription sign.
Many pharmacies in New Zealand are independent pharmacies which are often owned by the pharmacist. However, there are a number of chains which are often operated as franchises. Amcal is one of the largest chains and is run by Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Another is Unichem, which is part of the same group which runs the Boots the Chemist stores in the UK.
PO Box 10-254
Tel: 0800 660 050
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