A lack of funding means a 36-year-old University of Otago
drug-monitoring programme will shut at the end of this month,
with the loss of five jobs.
Otago University's intensive medicine monitoring programme
(IMMP) role was to identify adverse reactions to new
medicines and investigate safety issues with existing ones.
Until halfway through last year, it was funded by the
Ministry of Health through Medsafe.
Otago University New Zealand Pharmacovigilance Centre
director Dr Michael Tatley said the closure came after a
decision was made about five years ago to move from a
continous funding model to a project-based model.
''They identified a project that finished in the middle of
2012 and since then there has not been any other projects
that have been identified ... to keep the unit going,'' Dr
It was disappointing to see the loss of the programme, which
had played an ''important role'' and looked at about 40
medicines over its history.
This monitoring had resulted in changes that benefited
''All the observations that came out of it were fed to the
Ministry of Health and, over time, there have been various
changes or improvements which have been brought about.''
''What is lost out of this programme is that there is a level
of finer detail that one can get, because the majority of the
data came from general practice sources.''
Five staff, three of whom had contracts due to expire at the
end of the year, would be out of work as a result of the
If another project came up, the programme could be restarted
as the system and software were still there.
Medsafe clinical risk management manager Chris James said the
ministry was disappointed to see IMMP closing after it had
received no recent proposals for projects.
''Although Medsafe was open to considering further projects
for funding, no recent proposals have been received from the
programme,'' Mr James said.
Funding for IMMP projects had in the past come from Medsafe,
the university itself and pharmaceutical companies, he said.
The last project funded by Medsafe was smoking cessation drug
varenicline, known as Champix.
''Funding for the IMMP was changed around five years ago to a
project-based one, to strengthen the link between funding
objectives and results.
''However, Medsafe funding to the pharmacovigilance centre in
Otago, which in turn provides the IMMP, did not drop in that