Clinicians from Counties Manukau Health are working with other specialists throughout the country to ensure all COVID-19 patients get the best possible hospital and community care.
First established to prepare national guidelines for hospital management of COVID patients, the groups intent has evolved to include statements of recommendations for community providers, and to provide recommendation and explorations for therapeutics.
The group is managed by the Ministry of Health and includes medical professionals and scientists including infectious disease physicians, microbiologists, respiratory physicians, research specialists, intensivists, pharmacists, and emergency medicine physicians. It also includes representatives from Pharmac, the New Zealand Government agency that decides which medicines and related products are funded, and Ministry of Health unit Medsafe that is responsible for the regulation of therapeutic products in Aotearoa.
Referred to as the COVID-19 Therapeutics Technical Advisory Group the groups meets regularly to discuss treatments for COVID patients and includes five clinicians from Counties Manukau Health, including Dr Christopher Hopkins based at Middlemore.
“It’s an honour to be able to make contribution on a national level and to help ensure the best treatment and care is delivered to COVID-19 patients throughout the country.
“At Middlemore we’ve had a lot of experience with COVID patients so to be able to help and pass that knowledge on to other DHBS to prepare for the Omicron surge was motivating for us all.
“We had our own guidelines for patient treatment and infections prevention which we were sharing last year with other DHBs, and then the Ministry started to facilitate a more formal advisory group and we’re pleased to be part of the national collaboration.
“We discuss the clinical scenarios facing New Zealand hospitals, review overseas studies and research findings, and provide feedback about access and prescribing criteria for anti-viral medications and COVID-19 treatments.
“A recent example is the review of two anti-viral drugs Molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid©). Both drugs have been shown to be effective overseas in early infection and along with vaccinations, this is an exciting development towards reducing the overall health impact of COVID-19 on our community and those that are more vulnerable.
“We believe we should ensure that those most vulnerable with health conditions like respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes can access emerging treatments as quickly and easily as possible. We help do that by reflecting the need in the access criteria, the prescribing guidelines, the availability of the drugs, and in the systems we put in place to get the drugs to the right people at the right time. “
You can read more about Pharmac and its approach to funding COVID-19 treatments here.