Pharmac updates access criteria for remdesivir

Media release Medicines COVID-19

Pharmac has heard from our expert advisors and clinicians treating people with COVID-19 that we need to make further changes to the temporary access criteria for remdesivir.

“On Monday 28 February Pharmac temporarily widened access criteria to remdesivir to allow hospitals to treat those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, who are at high risk of severe disease,” says Pharmac’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr David Hughes. “We did this because the oral antivirals Pharmac has secured for treating COVID-19 are still some weeks away from availability in New Zealand.

“This week we have heard that to better target treatment to people who are most at risk, we need to further refine the access criteria. Our expert advisors and clinicians were concerned that the access criteria were too wide in the current context, and it would be used by those not at most risk.

“We need to make sure that the New Zealanders who need remdesivir are able to access it. We are working to increase our supply as we speak, and we are continuing to talk with our suppliers about earlier access to our ordered antiviral treatments.”

Updated access criteria for remdesivir is effective immediately. The changes mean that access is targeted to those with the highest health need. Pharmac will continue to listen to our experts’ advice, which may mean further changes to the access criteria as the current outbreak develops.

The double vaccine and booster are the best defence against falling seriously ill from Covid, but Pharmac is busy ensuring that should New Zealanders need further treatment, it’s available,” concludes Dr Hughes

Background information

Remdesivir is not approved by Medsafe for sale or marketing in New Zealand – an application is currently under assessment by Medsafe. This means remdesivir needs to be prescribed and used in accordance with Section 25 of the Medicines Act 1981. 

See the product detail on Medsafe's website(external link)

Pronunciation guide

Remdesivir                  Rem-des-avir