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More than 30,000 people to benefit under Pharmac proposal

Pharmac – Te Pātaka Whaioranga is proposing to fund five treatments to improve the lives of over 30,000 people in New Zealand. The treatments are for gynaecological cancers, lung disease, HIV, a rare condition affecting blood vessels, and for people at high risk of getting shingles.

“Thousands of New Zealanders would benefit from this proposal,” says Geraldine MacGibbon, Pharmac’s Director Pharmaceuticals. “We work as hard as we can to fund as many treatments as possible from within our fixed budget, so we’re pleased to have negotiated this provisional agreement with the supplier.”

The treatments in this proposal, with the supplier GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand (GSK), include:

  • funding niraparib (branded as Zejula) for three types of gynaecological cancers from 1 May 2024
  • funding fluticasone furoate with umeclidinium and vilanterol (branded as Trelegy Ellipta), a single inhaler triple-therapy, for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 1 May 2024
  • funding dolutegravir with lamivudine combination tablets (branded as Dovato) for treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from 1 May 2024
  • widening access to mepolizumab (branded as Nucala) for the treatment of relapsed or refractory eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), a rare condition affecting blood vessels from 1 May 2024
  • widening access to recombinant varicella zoster virus vaccine (branded as Shingrix) for prevention of shingles in immunocompromised people from 1 July 2024.

“The treatments in this proposal are diverse and are ones we know the community will benefit from,” says MacGibbon.

“For instance, taking the oral medicine niraparib once a day would slow down the progression of ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancer for many people and also improve their likelihood of survival. We are also pleased to be proposing to fund this without people needing any additional gene testing to find out if they are eligible.”

Talk Peach Gynaecological Cancer Foundation is incredibly pleased to hear that Pharmac is considering funding for niraparib in New Zealand for the first time. “Ovarian cancer survival is less than half breast cancer and prostate cancer, but it’s disproportionately under-funded.

“Kiwi women living with ovarian cancer have one of the lowest survival rates of any women’s cancer in the country, and many diagnosed have limited pathways forward once surgery or chemotherapy options have been exhausted.

“For many New Zealanders this access would provide hope and take away a significant financial burden, we are extremely happy to see ovarian cancer receive this much needed funding.”

MacGibbon says, “Meanwhile, funding the first single inhaler triple-therapy will provide an easier treatment option for people with COPD, and the combination treatment for HIV will help people to stay well while they continue to live with the life-long disease.”

Body Positive Chief Executive, Mark Fisher, says, “It’s exciting to have a new single tablet regimen available to help people living with HIV stay healthy and make adherence to the treatment easier.”

“People living with HIV adds an extra layer of vulnerability so they could have very painful experience if they were to get shingles. Making Shingrix available for immunocompromised people will prevent a lot of people from catching shingles, so we thank Pharmac for considering widening access to it.”

Another treatment Pharmac is considering widening access to is for a rare condition effecting blood vessels called eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA).

“We’re pleased to propose widening access to mepolizumab for people with EPGA, formerly called Churg-Strauss syndrome. This condition causes severe inflammation of blood vessels that constricts blood flow, often affecting the heart or kidneys. The treatment will reduce the risk of organ damage, improve symptoms and survival,” says MacGibbon.

GSK New Zealand Medical Director, Brett Marett, says, “We’re pleased to have partnered with Pharmac to move a step closer in giving New Zealanders access to these medicines and this vaccine. We are committed to working with Pharmac and other stakeholders in the health sector to help address unmet patient needs and deliver positive health outcomes for Kiwis.”

MacGibbon encourages clinicians and people effected by these conditions to submit feedback to the consultation, “Consultation is a really important step in our process. It’s how we understand how people will get the most from these medicines.”

The public consultation is available on the Pharmac website for anyone wanting to have their say. The consultation closes 4pm Thursday 29th February. Feedback can be emailed to consult@pharmac.govt.nz


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