Pharmac considering funding new medicines for lung cancer

Media release Medicines

Pharmac, the medicine funding agency for Aotearoa is seeking proposals from pharmaceutical suppliers for medicines that could treat New Zealanders with lung cancer.

“Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Aotearoa and it is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality,” says Pharmac’s Chief Executive, Sarah Fitt. “The medicines we will be evaluating are a type of immunotherapy called immune checkpoint inhibitors.”

“We are aware of the significant unmet need for lung cancer treatments and that lung cancer disproportionately affects Māori, who are nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed than non-Māori. In addition, Māori and Pacific peoples are also more likely to be diagnosed with advanced or metastatic lung cancer and experience worse outcomes than non-Māori and non-Pacific people.”

Pharmac’s Request for Proposals (RFP) will enable the consideration of various proposals to be assessed against the Factors for Consideration. The assessment and implementation of this process are likely to be complex and will take several months to complete. It would also require an all-of-sector response to implement effectively if funded.

“We hope that the result of this competitive process will help reduce some of these health inequities while acknowledging that there is further work to be done to support better medicine access equity across the health system,” says Ms Fitt.

Lung cancer specialist, Dr Laird Cameron sees people with lung cancer every day who could benefit from this immunotherapy. “I hope that this first step towards funding immunotherapy for advanced lung cancer will be undertaken as efficiently as possible and result in an evidence-based therapy available for New Zealanders."

“We are pleased to be taking this first step in the process and being able to consider more medicines for funding using the budget uplift announced in May,” concludes Ms Fitt.