Multiple myeloma treatments available to more people

Media release Medicines

Pharmac – Te Pātaka Whaioranga is making more treatment options available for people with multiple myeloma and other blood disorders.

“From 1 August, we’re widening access to lenalidomide and we’re also funding pomalidomide for the first time, so people can live well and spend more time with their friends and whānau,” says Geraldine MacGibbon, Pharmac’s Director Pharmaceuticals.

Nearly 4,000 additional people will benefit from these medicines over the next five years.

Changing the funded brand of lenalidomide to Lenalidomide Viatris through a competitive procurement process means Pharmac can increase access to these medicines.

“People with multiple myeloma will be able to use lenalidomide at any point in the course of their treatment and can have the medicine again if they’ve responded well to it previously,” says MacGibbon.

People with myelodysplastic syndrome are also set to benefit from the widened access to lenalidomide. They’ve previously accessed lenalidomide through Pharmac’s exceptional circumstances pathway but this decision will mean that their clinician will be able to prescribe the medicine for them in the same way as other funded medicines, without having to go through an individual application process.

The other treatment, pomalidomide (branded as Pomolide), will be funded for the first time for people with multiple myeloma as a second or later treatment option.

Through consultation feedback Pharmac heard from clinicians that they wanted to see a broader group covered by the funding. After considering this feedback, Pharmac has approved funding of lenalidomide and pomalidomide for the wider group of people with blood disorders called plasma cell dyscrasias, not just those with multiple myeloma (the most common type of plasma cell dyscrasia). We have also removed the renewal criteria for lenalidomide based on the feedback received.

Joan Fent*, who has multiple myeloma, welcomes Pharmac’s decision.

“This an excellent step forward as it allows more people to benefit from treatment. It’s great for myself and my family that as well as lenalidomide, pomalidomide is being funded as a further line of treatment which gives me options when I relapse. I'm rapt that New Zealand can now get so many more medicines for our money.” 

Meanwhile, MacGibbon acknowledges people would like to see funding for other treatments for multiple myeloma, like daratumumab, and says this is something Pharmac will continue to consider.

* name changed for privacy

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Details of the decision

From 1 August 2024:

  • people with plasma cell dyscrasias who meet the eligibility criteria will have access to lenalidomide.
  • people with myelodysplastic syndrome associated with a 5q deletion who have transfusion-dependent anaemia will be able to access lenalidomide.
  • people with relapsed/refractory plasma cell dyscrasias will have access to pomalidomide with or without dexamethasone.

People currently receiving lenalidomide (branded as Revlimid) would have six months to transition to the new funded brand (branded as Lenalidomide Viatris).


Lenalidomide is currently funded for people with multiple myeloma who meet certain eligibility criteria. Around 970 people receive treatment with lenalidomide for multiple myeloma each year.

A competitive procurement process, known as a Request for Proposals (RFP), for the supply of lenalidomide and pomalidomide was issued August 2023. The aim was to achieve savings on lenalidomide to support widened access to lenalidomide and/or the new funding of pomalidomide for the treatment of people with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.

The brands of lenalidomide and pomalidomide to be funded are generic medicines. More information about generic medicines is available on our website.