Finding COVID-19 treatments fast

We’re making sure New Zealanders have access to the latest COVID-19 treatments. By working closely with suppliers, we’re proactively securing treatments as they become available.

“The unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the ongoing health risks posed by COVID-19 has required us to take a different approach to some of our work,” says Director of Operations Lisa Williams.

“While we’re usually on the receiving end of funding applications, to secure access to safe and effective COVID-19 treatments, we’re leading engagement with global pharmaceutical companies.”

As of 1 December 2021, we have secured tocilizumab, remdesivir, molnupiravir, Ronapreve, and baricitinib to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 at different severities. 

“To help us understand the evidence and how these treatments could benefit New Zealanders, we’ve assembled an
expert advisory group,” says Lisa. “We are working closely with them, as well as the Ministry of Health’s Science and Technical Advisory Group and Therapeutics Technical Advisory Group, to make informed and swift decisions.”

These medicines are funded from a dedicated budget allocated by the Government. That means COVID-19 treatment costs do not come from the annual budget for New Zealand’s medicines (the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget, or CPB).

“Using separate funding allocated by Government has enabled us to move quickly to access new COVID-19 treatments,” Lisa explains. 

COVID-19 has also created numerous supply challenges, testing some of our arrangements with suppliers since the 
pandemic began. Thanks to the huge effort from our team and the help of many suppliers and partners in the sector, we’ve been able to do things differently throughout to ensure medicine supply in New Zealand.