Arthritis New Zealand and Gout Action Aotearoa have called for improvements in the prescription of uric acid lowering medication for Māori and Pacific peoples who have gout arthritis. This call comes in the wake of news on Radio New Zealand this morning expressing concern that doctor prescribing habits may reflect systemic bias.

For years, groups such as Arthritis New Zealand and Gout Action Aotearoa have expressed alarm that Māori and Pacific peoples, some of whom have a genetic predisposition to get gout arthritis, are consistently less likely to receive effective treatment, namely the prescribing of uric acid lowering medications such as allopurinol.

This evidence is starkly evident in the Atlas of Healthcare Variation report on gout arthritis published by the Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand. It shows that inequitable treatment of Māori and Pacific peoples who have gout arthritis has persisted over the last five years. The Atlas 2018 update found that although Māori and Pacific peoples were more affected by gout arthritis, they were less likely compared to other groups to receive uric acid lowering medication to address the cause of the illness.

Gout is a form of arthritis with a strong genetic component, contrary to popular myth that it is mainly a ‘lifestyle disease’. Uric acid lowering medication, such as allopurinol, is an essential component in managing gout arthritis.

Arthritis New Zealand and Gout Action Aotearoa are currently working with the Ministry of Health to develop initiatives to improve, amongst other issues, the prescribing of allopurinol for gout arthritis.

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