Australia behind New Zealand on switch

19 March 2015

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19 March 2015 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) says New Zealand is ahead of Australia in increasing consumer access to medicines.
This was in response to a new study published in PLOS One, which compared consumer access to medicines in Australia and New Zealand. The study concluded that conservatism and political influences have a negative impact on rescheduling ("switch") activity in Australia when compared to New Zealand, which has a more progressive approach to switch1.

A number of medicines such as trimethoprim for urinary tract infection; triptans for migraine; oseltamivir for flu and flu vaccines are available in New Zealand as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines but still require a prescription in Australia.
ASMI Executive Director Dr Deon Schoombie said: "This study reinforces results of an earlier study, which demonstrated that New Zealand was the most active country in progressive switches from 2003 to 2013, followed by the United Kingdom and Japan. Australia was one of three countries that showed the least switch activity during the decade 2.

"One of ASMI's top priorities is to pursue reforms in this area. The current Australian scheduling environment is not conducive to increasing access to non-prescription medicines.

"ASMI is calling on the Federal Government to support a multi-stakeholder review of the Australian scheduling environment; develop a scheduling policy and 'switch agenda', and reform the regulatory framework to support the rescheduling of medicines, consistent with the National Medicines Policy.

"Increasing access to medicines has the potential to make meaningful contributions towards creating a sustainable healthcare system and to have a significant impact on individual and public health," Dr Schoombie added.

About ASMI: The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines (CM). ASMI members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn Non-Prescription Medicines market. Membership totals 50 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 18,000 people with exports estimated at $1.2 billion annually. ASMI's mission is to advance consumer health through responsible self-care. This means driving a viable and responsible industry and empowering the consumer with evidence-based products and information with the aim of improving health and wellbeing. To find out more about ASMI or how to become an ASMI member, please visit (

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
Communications Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
M:0408 256 381 E:

1. Gauld, N. et al. Widening consumer access to medicines: A comparison of prescription to non-prescription medicine switch in Australia and New Zealand. PLOS ONE, Published 18 March 2015.

2. Gauld, N. et al. Widening consumer access to medicines through switching medicines to non-prescription: A six country comparison. PLOS ONE, Published: September 24, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107726,