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December 2001 issue Pharmacy Today magazine


An Auckland pharmacist is under fire as the Minister of Health distances herself from the hospital-only medicines and NRT "debacles".

Warren Flaunty's comments in Pharmacy Today, over hospital-only medicines and NRT contracts, have drawn criticism from Health Minister Annette King and the Quit Group.

Warren Flaunty described the ministry's failure to pay some pharmacists around $1million for dispensing hospital-only medicines as another "example of the government's shoddy treatment of pharmacy." Some debts go back to mid-1999.The minister says both issues are the responsibility of the Ministry
of Health.

The government, she says, has no role in reimbursing pharmacists and the Health Ministry is accountable for what Warren Flaunty describes as "the NRT debacle".

Annette King wrote to Warren Flaunty rebuking him for his criticisms. She told Pharmacy Today, her correspondence was a personal letter and that debate through the media will resolve little.

The letter is written on ministerial letterhead and signed by Annette King as Minister of Health.

"I'm somewhat amazed," says Warren Flaunty. "I've always understood the (health) ministry was the responsibility of the Minister of Health and the government."


Last month, the Quit Group issued a statement, saying Warren Flaunty had done pharmacy a "disservice" for speaking out over the termination of 80 contracts for pharmacies providing exchange cards.

Warren Flaunty claimed $6800 in advertising and staff training costs he incurred preparing for the 12-month programme.

His claims resulted in the Quit Group reinstating the contracts.

The group's exchange card co-ordinator Steve Cook said bringing financial losses into the debate, while claiming to provide a public service for minimal returns, did little for pharmacy.

Warren Flaunty suspects Quit Group's reaction may be a case of sour grapes. While he was happy to operate a public health service at break even point, he questions Steve Cook's intimation that he should also happily accept a loss of several thousand dollars.

Warren Flaunty's lawyers believe the NRT exchange card contract was effectively suspended and are now demanding the period of suspension be added to the remainder of the contract.

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