Interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A): Discontinuation

Interferon alfa-2a can be used to treat T cell lymphomas and myeloproliferative disorders. 

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Interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A) being discontinued

At the end of June 2020, Roche, the supplier of interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A) stopped making this medicine globally. We understand that this change will affect about 25 people who currently take interferon alfa-2a.

PHARMAC's expert advice has confirmed that interferon alfa-2a is mainly used to treat:

  • myeloproliferative disorders where patients can't take other funded alternatives (including patients who are pregnant or actively planning to become pregnant) 
  • T cell lymphomas, such as mycosis fungoides.

PHARMAC understands that interferon alfa-2a is no longer used to treat hepatitis C.

What we're doing

PHARMAC has widened access to pegylated interferon alfa-2a so that patients currently taking interferon alfa-2a can access an appropriate alternative. This took effect from 1 July 2020.

Information for people taking interferon alfa-2a

We understand that having to change medications can be frustrating. We apologise for any inconvenience.  

Unfortunately the supplier (Roche) has stopped making interferon alfa-2a completely. 

You will need to talk to your specialist about what alternative treatment is right for you.

Information for prescribers

Roche discontinued interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A) globally, from the end of June 2020.

Potential alternative: Pegylated interferon alfa-2a 

The Cancer Treatments Subcommittee of PTAC (CaTSoP) have given PHARMAC advice about this discontinuation.

CaTSoP advised that pegylated interferon alfa-2a would be an acceptable alternative to interferon alfa-2a for patients with:

  • cutaneous T cell lymphoma, and
  • myeloproliferative disorders (if other funded alternatives, such as hydroxyurea, anagrelide and busulfan are not appropriate).

We've widened the Special Authority criteria for pegylated interferon alfa-2a to help patients with these conditions to access the treatment. There are about 25 patients in New Zealand currently taking interferon alfa-2a. 

Start transitioning patients 

Current stock of interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A) in the supply chain will likely be depleted before the end of 2020. 

We ask that you start transitioning patients currently on interferon alfa-2a to alternative treatments.

Information for pharmacists

At the end of June 2020, Roche discontinued interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A, Pharmacode 483206). 

PHARMAC has widened the access criteria for pegylated interferon alfa-2a (Pegasys, Pharmacode 2162806) to patients with myeloproliferative disorder and cutaneous T cell lymphoma. This took effect from 1 July 2020.

We're asking prescribers to transition their patients to an alternative treatment.

Interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A) was delisted from 1 December 2020 to allow time for residual supplies of this product to be dispensed and claimed for.

Key dates for prescribers and pharmacists

  • 30 June 2020 – Roche stopped supplying interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A)
  • 1 July 2020 – Pegylated interferon alfa-2a Special Authority criteria widened to include myeloproliferative disorder and cutaneous T cell lymphoma
  • 1 December 2020 – interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A) delisted from the Pharmaceutcial Schedule

Who to contact

If you take inteferon alfa-2a, talk to your specialist. PHARMAC cannot comment on any individual clinical circumstances.

If you have questions about the discontinuation, contact Roche. 

If you have questions about the Special Authority changes, contact