Access criteria for new COVID-19 treatment announced

Media release Medicines COVID-19

Pharmac has today confirmed the access criteria for the first preventative medicine for COVID-19, tixagevimab and cilgavimab (branded as Evusheld), for severely immunocompromised New Zealanders.

“Being vaccinated and boosted is the best defence against COVID-19, but we’re pleased to have treatments to prevent more people from becoming very unwell,” says Chief Medical Officer, Dr David Hughes. “The preventative medicine, Evusheld provides an additional layer of protection to those in our communities who need it most and will support the aim of preventing severe illness and hospitalisations as a result of COVID-19.”

“We have developed access criteria to ensure that the treatment is given to those with the highest health need and those most likely to benefit from the treatment.”

“Following advice from the clinical experts in our COVID-19 Treatments Advisory Group, we have prioritised the supply of Evusheld for people who are immunocompromised and most at risk of an inadequate immune response to vaccination or COVID-19 infection,” says Dr Hughes.

Evusheld is available now in hospitals and will be available in the community from mid-September. “We are taking a phased approach to allow additional time for community implementation to be developed with the sector.”

“We encourage whānau to have conversations with loved ones about the treatment options and ask practitioners to urge their communities to take the precautions that are available to them to stay safe and well.”

Further detail on New Zealand’s COVID-19 Treatments Portfolio is available on our website.

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Evusheld is a combination of 2 monoclonal antibodies targeting different aspects of spike protein on the virus. It is a preventative treatment, given as two separate and sequential injections.

In June 2022 Pharmac secured supply of 216 courses (300 mg) of short dated unapproved tixagevimab with cilgavimab for immediate use by Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand hospitals for use in people at very-high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection, prior to Access Criteria being finalised.

Following the exhaustion of these 216 courses Pharmac made the decision to release 500 courses of the first delivery of tixagevimab with cilgavimab, to ensure that people at very-high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection are able to receive treatment prior to Pharmac’s access criteria being finalised.