Proposal for the supply of azithromycin and clarithromycin tablets

Medicines Consultation Closed

Extended consultation period

We have become aware that some groups were not directly notified when our original consultation on this proposal was released in February 2021. To ensure you have a chance to respond we are sending this document directly to groups that may not have received it and allowing additional time for responses.

This consultation was emailed to subscribers on 21 May 2021.

What we’re proposing

We are seeking feedback on a proposal to change to the funded brands of azithromycin and clarithromycin currently supplied by Apotex New Zealand Limited (Apotex), following the announcement that it is leaving the New Zealand market.

This proposal would mean everyone using azithromycin tablets and clarithromycin tablets would need to change brands to continue using a funded medicine. No changes are proposed to any dispensing or access restrictions that currently apply to this medicine.


Apotex, a pharmaceutical supplier, has made the decision to leave the New Zealand market from late 2021. Apotex currently supplies a number of pharmaceuticals in New Zealand. We’ve been working to secure alternative brands of these medicines to ensure continuity of supply for people taking the medicines.

Two of the medicines Apotex currently supplies to New Zealand are azithromycin tablets (250 mg and 500 mg) and clarithromycin tablets (250 mg and 500 mg). This proposal would mean that funded brands of 500 mg azithromycin tablets and 250 mg and 500 mg clarithromycin tablets would continue to be available to New Zealanders who need them.

An alternative brand of 250 mg azithromycin tablets has not been able to be secured and does not form part of this proposal.

Why we’re proposing this

Following Apotex New Zealand Limited’s announcement that it is leaving the New Zealand market, PHARMAC released a closed Request for Tenders on 1 October 2020. As a result of this procurement process and our analysis of the tender bids received, we have has entered into provisional agreements with a number of suppliers for the supply of various medicines including azithromycin and clarithromycin.

Details about our proposal

Pfizer New Zealand Limited’s brand of 500 mg azithromycin tablets and Mylan New Zealand Limited’s brand of 250 mg and 500 mg clarithromycin tablets would be be listed in Section B (the Community) and Part II of Section H (the Hospital Medicines List) of the Pharmaceutical Schedule as follows:

Chemical  Presentation Proposed brand Pack size Proposed listing date
Azithromycin Tab 500 mg Zithromax 2 1 July 2021
Clarithromycin Tab 250 mg Klacid  14  1 September 2021
Clarithromycin Tab 500 mg Klacid 14 1 September 2021

If this proposal is progressed it would mean we would secure supply of 500 mg azithromycin tablets and 250 mg and 500 mg clarithromycin tablets, however; it would mean people currently using these medicines would need to transition to the proposed brand from the listing date.

The proposed brand of 250 mg clarithromycin tablets (Klacid) has previously been funded in New Zealand.

Supply of a 250 mg azithromycin tablet has not been able to be secured and does not form part of this proposal.

Prescribers would need to support people to change brands of medicine as a result of this proposal. Prescribers would be supported with information to manage the proposed brand changes in this proposal.

To provide feedback

Consultation is a very important step in our process. When providing consultation feedback, you might want to think about:

  • The impact of a 250 mg strength of azithromycin being unavailable.
  • If there is any information that we could provide to help assist these changes.

Send us an email: by 4 pm Wednesday 2 June 2021.

All feedback received before the closing date will be considered by PHARMAC’s Board (or its delegate) prior to making a decision on this proposal.

Your feedback may be shared

Feedback we receive is subject to the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). Please be aware that we may need to share your feedback, including your identity, in response to an OIA request.

This applies to anyone providing feedback, whether they are providing feedback themselves or for an organisation, in a personal or professional capacity.

We can only keep feedback confidential as allowed under the OIA and other related laws. If you want any part of your feedback treated as confidential, you need to tell us. Please let us know if you want to keep part of your feedback confidential, and why. Is it commercially sensitive, confidential or proprietary, or personal information? Clearly state this and tell us which parts of your feedback you want to keep confidential for these reasons. We will consider your request under our OIA requirements.