Major PHARMAC funding package agreed with Roche

Media release Medicines

PHARMAC has announced a major funding package with Roche for nine medicines covering ten different conditions.

The package includes the funding of three new treatments and widening of access to three existing medicines for seven new indications, as well as significant savings on five existing medicines from 1 January 2017.

PHARMAC Acting Chief Executive, Sarah Fitt, says the agreement with Roche will see nearly 2,000 people over five years getting access to medicines they need for indications across oncology, haematology, respiratory and others.

“PHARMAC and Roche have worked incredibly hard together over the last nine months to reach an agreement that will benefit a wide range of people,” says Ms Fitt.

“Being able to work constructively with suppliers like Roche means New Zealanders can get the best possible health outcomes from PHARMAC’s work.”

Included in the package is a new breast cancer medicine, pertuzumab, a new medicine for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, obinutuzumab, and a new treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, pirfenidone.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in New Zealand and the funding of pertuzumab in combination with trastuzumab will go a long way to improving patient outcomes,” says Ms Fitt.

“Through our negotiations, we’ve also been able to fund pirfenidone, which is the first medicine registered in New Zealand specifically for the treatment of a lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It’s a big step forward in the treatment of this chronic life threatening illness.

“This package of medicines is one of the biggest to be funded in PHARMAC's history. We've been able to make it happen through the flexibility of the PHARMAC model; our strong focus on evidence; by taking an even-handed approach to all treatments areas; and the willingness of the supplier, Roche, to offer very good value-for-money for its products.

“For PHARMAC it doesn’t stop here. We know that new medicines are being developed all the time and evidence on existing medicines continues to evolve. We’ll continue to work with our independent expert clinical advisers and suppliers to make the best choices we can to further improve the health of New Zealanders.”

More information of the funding package is available on the PHARMAC website.


Phone 021 863 342

Further information

The full details of the bundle include:

  • Funding of three new treatments:
    • obinutuzumab (Gazyva) for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
    • pertuzumab (Perjeta) for metastatic breast cancer (MBC)
    • pirfenidone (Esbriet) for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. (IPF)
  • Widened access to seven new indications:
    • odornase alfa (Pulmozyme) for children under the age of 5 years with cystic fibrosis
    • rituximab (Mabthera) for hairy cell leukaemia*; re-treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; and MPO-ANCA positive vasculitis*
    • tocilizumab (Actemra) for polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (pJIA); rheumatoid arthritis (RA); and multicentric Castleman’s disease* (MCD).
  • Amended contractual terms, including savings for:
    • dornase alfa
    • rituximab
    • tocilizumab
    • trastuzumab (Herceptin)
    • erlotinib (Tarceva)

* Unapproved indication

New treatments

Pertuzumab (Perjeta)

  • Pertuzumab is indicated as a first-line treatment for HER-2 positive metastatic breast cancer, in combination with trastuzumab and docetaxel.
  • It is currently Medsafe registered only for people who have not received any prior treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women, and approximately 3000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Pirfenidone (Esbriet)

  • Pirfenidone is the first medicine registered in New Zealand specifically for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a type of lung disease that is progressive and irreversible.

Obinutuzumab (Gazyva)

  • Obinutuzumab is used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).
  • CLL is the most common form of leukaemia in New Zealand.
  • Approximately 200 patients are diagnosed with CLL every year.