Pharmac funds more treatments for people with inflammatory bowel disease

Media release Medicines

Te Pātaka Whaioranga – Pharmac has today announced funding of ustekinumab (branded as Stelara) for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the widening of funded access to infliximab (branded as Remicade) for people with IBD-associated arthritis from 1 February 2023.

“We are pleased to announce that ustekinumab will be funded to provide benefits in the response and remission of IBD for people who meet certain eligibility criteria,” says Pharmac’s director of operations Lisa Williams. “We estimate that approximately 500 people with IBD will benefit from use of the medicine in the first year increasing up to a total of 1500 people after a few years.”

The decision to fund ustekinumab will help people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis that have not responded to previous biologic therapies, or where previous biologic therapies have caused intolerable side effects. 

“We are also happy to confirm the widening of funded access to infliximab to treat IBD-associated arthritis,” says Ms Williams.

“We want to thank everyone who gave us feedback on our proposal. We have carefully considered the feedback and made changes to criteria to enable many people who are currently self-funding treatment to access funded treatment as well.

“We know that IBD has a significant and ongoing impact on people who have it and their whānau. In November 2022 we also announced funding for vedolizumab, another medicine to treat IBD. Our expert clinical advisors told us that funding both ustekinumab and vedolizumab, in addition to infliximab, will enable greater clinician and patient choice for the treatment of IBD. 

“Following the budget increase, we are working our way through our options for investment list,” says Ms Williams. “In the 6 months since 1 July 2022 we’ve already implemented 35 new funding decisions, covering 16 new treatments and widened access to 19 others.”

Pronunciation guide

Ustekinumab – u-stek-inu-mab

Infliximab – in-flix-i-mab

Vedolizumab – ved-oliz-u-mab