Many New Zealanders to benefit from latest PHARMAC funding proposals

Media release Medicines

A series of 38 funding proposals across the breadth and scope of PHARMAC’s work has been released for public feedback.

The proposals range from new technology for patients with high health needs, to everyday solutions that would benefit families across New Zealand. These proposals would mean new fully-funded treatments being available from 1 July 2017.

PHARMAC’s work is about ensuring all New Zealanders get access to a wide range of useful and best value treatments.

“PHARMAC is constantly looking across all medicines to see if more people could benefit from new treatments and from those already funded,” says Chief Executive Steffan Crausaz.  “We’re pleased that as a result of our work more than 30,000 New Zealanders would have the chance to live longer, healthier lives, while families would experience positive benefits with new medicines for children.”

The consultation package includes better use of 33 existing treatments including earlier access to the range of existing HIV treatments affecting around 3000 people each year.   “In addition, we are consulting on expanding access to hepatitis C treatments that would be a life-saver for people in later stages of their liver disease,” says Crausaz.

“We’ve included proposals to make better use of existing treatments – changes that are often suggested by prescribers to remove administrative hurdles for treating their patients.” 

“Five new treatments are proposed for funding.  In addition to antibiotic and insomnia medicines for children, treatment would now be available for mesothelioma caused by asbestos inhalation.”

“PHARMAC is committed to improving health outcomes for all New Zealanders, with more consultations to follow in the coming months.  Once current consultation closes, PHARMAC will review the responses before decisions are made.  If approved as consulted, the changes would take effect from 1 July 2017.” 

Appendix: Detailed list of consultations 

Proposed new medicines

  • Melatonin (Circadin) modified-release tablets for children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders who have insomnia.
  • Pemetrexed injection for the treatment of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer caused primarily by inhalation of asbestos fibres and for first-line and second-line treatment of people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
  • Roxithromycin dispersible tablets (Rulide D) would be funded for children under the age of 12 years.
  • Sildenafil injection would be funded in hospitals for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension in children.
  • Ivabradine tablets would be funded in hospitals for use prior to computed tomography coronary angiography. 

Proposed changes to existing treatment access

  • Earlier access to HIV anti-retrovirals treatment for people with HIV infection: 21 treatments of which any 4 per patient are subsidised from across non-nucleosides reverse transcriptase inhibitors, nucleosides reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors and strand transfer inhibitors.
  • Azithromycin tablets (Apo-Azithromycin, Zithromax) a macrolide antibiotic (with anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties) access to treatment for non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis in children. 
  • Lamivudine (Zeffix), tablets an anti-viral agent that is highly active against hepatitis B virus (HBV) available for prophylaxis of hepatitis B reinfection in immunocompromised patients receiving rituximab-based chemotherapy.
  • Ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (Harvoni) tablets for patients with chronic hepatitis C with advanced disease at an earlier stage.
  • Erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa) tablets for patients with non-small cell lung cancer to switch between treatments at any time due to intolerance.
  • Nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembolizumab (Keytruda) injection for advanced melanoma amended to add a requirement for patients to have an ECOG performance status score of 0-2 to assist clinicians in better identifying treatment options for patients.
  • Thalidomide (Thalomid) capsules for the treatment of multiple myeloma would be available closer to home via any community pharmacy, rather than only from a hospital pharmacy.
  • Lenalidomide (Revlimid) capsules for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma with progressive disease new 15 mg capsule strength to support optimal dosing for those patients transitioning from a 25 mg dose to a 10 mg dose.
  • Midazolam injection for people experiencing a sustained epileptic seizure (status epilepticus) able to be carried in doctors’ bags or given in surgeries in urgent situations.
  • Infliximab (Remicade) injection use in hospitals to include treatment of neurosarcoidosis and Behçet’s disease, and changes to criteria for use in ocular inflammation.
  • Enoxaparin (Clexane) injection to include use during home haemodialysis.


Consultation links

8 May

21 April

Contact Kerri Osborne   021 86 33 42