Pharmac to fund baricitinib to treat moderate to severe cases of COVID-19

Media release Medicines

Pharmac has purchased another new medicine, baricitinib, to treat moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, with 500 courses expected in New Zealand within a matter of weeks.  

“Clinical trials have shown baricitinib can help hospitalised COVID-19 patients, reducing severity of symptoms and time in hospital, and increasing survival,” says Pharmac’s chief executive Sarah Fitt.

Baricitinib, an oral tablet, is not currently Medsafe approved for use in the treatment of COVID-19 and clinicians will need to comply with section 25 of the Medicines Act 1981.

“We are already funding tocilizumab and remdesivir to treat moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. Securing supplies of baricitinib means we will have an additional treatment option for those who become unwell.”

“Our best safeguard against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. But we are pleased that we can purchase another treatment to help those who do require hospitalisation as a result of this infection.”

“Since the pandemic has started, we have quickly secured additional treatments for COVID-19 – remdesivir, tocilizumab, molnupiravir and Ronapreve – using a dedicated budget allocated by Government to make sure New Zealand can access new COVID-19 medicines,” says Sarah.