Proposal to fully fund Mercilon 28 for oral contraception

Medicines

Consultation Closed

What we’re proposing

We are seeking feedback on a proposal to increase the subsidy to fully fund ethinyloestradiol 20 mcg with desogestrel 150 mcg tablets and 7 inert tablets (Brand name: Mercilon 28) for oral contraception through a provisional agreement with Organon (New Zealand) Limited. Please be advised that Mercilon 28 was previously supplied by Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited.

This proposal would result in the following changes from 1 April 2021:

  • The list price for ethinyloestradiol 20 mcg with desogestrel 150 mcg tablets and 7 inert tablets will be reduced to $10.00 per pack.
  • The subsidy for ethinyloestradiol 20 mcg with desogestrel 150 mcg tablets and 7 inert tablets will be increased to $10.00 per pack. 

Since 14 December 2020, PHARMAC had temporarily increased the subsidy for Mercilon 28 to match the listed price of $19.80 per pack. This was to offer a funded alternative for those who had been affected by the recent combined oral contraceptive shortage and could not tolerate other options listed in the Pharmaceutical Schedule. Prior to this temporary measure, Mercilon 28 was only partially subsidised (up to $6.62), unless the patient had a valid approval for the oral contraceptive Special Authority criteria (SA0500) – in which case it was fully subsidised. 

The agreement with Organon would mean that they would have protection from delisting and subsidy restriction until 31 March 2024. 

Further details on this proposal, including how to provide feedback, can be found below.

Consultation closes at 5 pm on Friday, 12 March 2021 and feedback can be emailed to consult@pharmac.govt.nz

What would the effect be?

From 1 April 2021, Mercilon 28 would be fully funded for all patients. This would provide an additional fully funded option to patients requiring combined oral contraceptives. We estimate that approximately 900 patients would benefit in the first year increasing to up to 1,300 patients benefitting each year, after five years.  

There would be no change for the individuals on other fully funded combined oral contraceptives through this proposal.

Who we think will be interested

  • Patients requiring contraceptive services and their whānau
  • General practitioners, sexual health physicians, gynaecologists, nurses, pharmacists and other clinicians and health professionals involved in providing contraceptive services.
  • Hospital and community pharmacies, DHB’s, pharmaceutical suppliers and wholesalers

About Mercilon 28 for oral contraception

Mercilon 28

Mercilon 28 is a combined oral contraceptive pill and is used as an effective means of birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Each pack consists of 21 active pills and 7 inert pills (which contain no active ingredient). The active pill has two components – 150 mcg of progestogen called desogestrel and 20 mcg of oestrogen called ethinyloestradiol.

Why we’re proposing this

The proposal would provide an additional fully funded option to patients requiring combined oral contraceptives.

The oral contraceptive market had experienced a number of prolonged supply issues recently. Although some alternative brands were supplied, they were limited in quantity. During the supply shortages, PHARMAC received feedback from the clinical advisors and the sector that additional combined oral contraceptive options would be helpful. Ethinyloestradiol 20 mcg with desogestrel 150 mcg tablets and 7 inert tablets (Brand name: Mercilon 28), supplied by Merck Sharp and Dohme (New Zealand) at the time, was identified as one of the alternative chemicals appropriate to address the unmet health need.

Since 14 December 2020, PHARMAC had temporarily increased the subsidy for Mercilon 28 to match the listed price of $19.80 per pack. This was to offer a funded alternative for those who had been affected by the recent combined oral contraceptive shortage and could not tolerate other options listed in the Pharmaceutical Schedule. Prior to this temporary measure, Mercilon 28 was only partially subsidised (up to $6.62), unless the patient had a valid approval for the oral contraceptive Special Authority criteria (SA0500) – in which case it was fully subsidised.

This proposal would enable the continuity of fully funded Mercilon 28 supply for all patients.

Details about our proposal

Funded access to ethinyloestradiol 20 mcg with desogestrel 150 mcg tablets and 7 inert tablets (Brand name: Mercilon 28) would be amended in Section B of the Pharmaceutical Schedule from 1 April 2021 to the following price and subsidy (ex-manufacturer, excluding GST):

Chemical

Formulation

Brand

Pack size

Proposed price and subsidy

Ethinyloestradiol with desogestrel

20 mcg with desogestrel 150 mcg and 7 inert tablets

Mercilon 28

84

$10.00

Organon’s ethinyloestradiol 20 mcg with desogestrel 150 mcg tablets and 7 inert tablets (Brand name: Mercilon 28) would have protection from delisting and subsidy reduction until 31 March 2024.

To provide feedback

Send us an email: consult@pharmac.govt.nz by 5pm on Friday, 12 March 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.

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.