Pharmac considering multiple new treatments

Media release Medicines

Te Pātaka Whaioranga – Pharmac is considering funding five different medicines which would give thousands of New Zealanders more treatment options for a range of health of conditions.

In the consultation issued today, Pharmac is seeking feedback on proposals to:

  • fund tolvaptan for people with a type of kidney disease called autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD)
  • widen funded access to cinacalcet for people with hyperparathyroidism
  • remove all funding restrictions from zoledronic acid which would enable its unrestricted use in a range of conditions, and
  • fund selenium and copper supplementation for people in hospital with major burns

“Following the budget increase announced in May 2022, we are working our way through our options for investment list,” says Pharmac’s director of operations Lisa Williams. “We are really pleased to be in a position to progress the funding of so many treatments for these important therapeutic areas.”

“Current treatment for ADPKD is limited to management of chronic kidney disease. Our clinical experts tell us that tolvaptan would, in addition to reducing kidney pain, treat the underlying disease by delaying disease progression, the need for dialysis and transplantation, and reducing the risk of mortality. If funding is approved, tolvaptan would be listed from 1 December and an estimated 400 people a year would be eligible.”

“We are proposing to widen access to cinacalcet, from 1 December, for people with hyperparathyroidism. Our clinical experts have advised us that treatment with cinacalcet would reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. If approved, approximately 725 people would be eligible for treatment in the first year of funding and is expected to increase in the years following.

“Pharmac currently funds zoledronic acid for a range of conditions including for osteoporosis and breast cancer, but with eligibility restrictions. We are proposing to remove these restrictions, from 1 March 2023. This change is expected to benefit around 6,000 additional people over the next 5 years.

“We are proposing to fund two different medicines, selenium oral drops and copper chloride injection, for people in hospital with major burns, from 1 December. Supplementation with selenium and copper would likely result in a decrease in infectious episodes, with a reduced risk of infection-related mortality. An estimated 195 people per year would receive these treatments if funded.”

This consultation has been sent to health professionals, patient groups, and others who Pharmac thinks would be interested. It is available on the Pharmac website for anyone wanting to have their say.

“Consultation is a very important step in our process,” says Ms Williams. “It’s how we check that the people who will get the most benefit from the medicines will be able to access them. If approved, we will also be working closely with our colleagues across the health sector to plan for the implementation of these treatments.”

Learn more

So far, this financial year (1 July 2022–30 June 2023) Pharmac has made 21 new investments:

  • The Combined Pharmaceutical Budget (CPB) has funded three new treatments and widened access to 14 medicines.
  • The COVID-19 Recovery & Relief Fund (CRRF) has funded one new COVID-19 treatment and widened access to four treatments currently available.