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A GP member of the Southern District Health Board is pushing for action to stem pharmaceutical prescribing in the wake of a $1.3 million over-spend in the first two months of the year.
Speaking at the board's monthly meeting in Dunedin on Thursday, Dr Branko Sijnja said Southern prescribers must be sent a message to take immediate action to address the problem.
Pharmaceuticals, encompassing GP and hospital prescriptions, were $1.3 million more than expected in July and August.
Dr Sijnja said doctors should not be prescribing amounts so large that people could stockpile it at home, nor should they be prescribing unnecessarily large amounts to people travelling overseas.
''We need to put a message out there that we have got a problem with pharmaceuticals.''
It needed to happen quickly, he said.
Board member Richard Thomson feared any comment he made would be wrongly reported as criticising prescribers, which was not his intention.
Pharmaceuticals was an area the board could influence, unlike many other costs over which it had little control, he said.
It was a matter he had raised earlier this year, and while the board agreed to look at it, there was as yet no action.
He said even a tiny reduction in prescribing could result in large savings.
Chairman Joe Butterfield said the board needed to know as soon as possible if it had a serious issue to deal with in terms of pharmacy over-spending.
The end of the calendar year was approaching, and he did not want to be faced with a major issue in February, by which time it could be too late to make cost savings.
He requested a report on cost-saving measures to be presented at the next cycle of meetings.