More treatment options proposed for people with multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome

Media release Medicines

Pharmac – Te Pātaka Whaioranga is proposing to fund more treatments for people with a type of blood cancer, multiple myeloma, and some people with a blood cell disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome.

The funding would benefit over 800 New Zealanders and improve their quality of life.

“The funding proposal would widen access to lenalidomide through a brand change and fund a new treatment, pomalidomide. Both treatments work to prevent the progression of disease and are taken as capsules in combination with other therapies,” says Pharmac’s Director Advice and Assessment/Chief Medical Officer, Dr David Hughes.

Pharmac is seeking feedback on the proposal that could result in:

  • A brand change for lenalidomide to a generic version (branded as Lenalidomide Viatris) which would enable widened access to lenalidomide for people with multiple myeloma and for people with myelodysplastic syndrome who meet eligibility criteria from 1 August 2024.
  • A new listing for pomalidomide (branded as Pomolide) for people with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, available from 1 August 2024.

“We want to hear from the community, and clinicians supporting people with these conditions, about what they think of what we’re proposing.”

Myeloma New Zealand Trustee Nichola Oakenfull says, "We are delighted that pomalidomide could be funded and access could be widened to lenalidomide - having access to these and other medicines is desperately needed to reduce the gap present for our community. We encourage all New Zealanders impacted by myeloma to consider providing feedback to Pharmac on this consultation.”

For people currently using the Revlimid brand of lenalidomide there would be a six-month transition period to support the proposed brand change. Revlimid would be delisted from the Pharmaceutical Schedule on 31 January 2025.

It’s expected most people would be able to change to the proposed new brand of lenalidomide. However, if people experienced a severe adverse reaction to the new generic brand their prescriber would be able to apply for them to access Revlimid through Pharmac’s exceptional circumstances processes.

Pharmac released a competitive procurement process in August 2023 asking suppliers to submit proposals for the supply of pomalidomide and lenalidomide in New Zealand.

“Using a competitive procurement process helps us to stretch New Zealand’s medicine budget further and means we can fund more medicines for more New Zealanders,” says Hughes.

“We understand there are other treatments the multiple myeloma community would like to see funded, such as daratumumab and carfilzomib. These are medicines we too would like to fund and we continue to talk to the suppliers about these applications.”

Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand Chief Executive, Tim Edmonds welcomes the proposal to expand access to generic lenalidomide and pomalidomide. “This could bring New Zealanders one step closer to the established standard of care and could enable New Zealand haematologists to practice in closer alignment with internationally recognised clinical treatment pathways. It is important to recognise that there remains an urgent unmet need for myeloma patients, and we hope to see progress for the funding of other treatments like daratumumab and carfilzomib."

Pharmac wants to hear from the community and the health care sector about this proposal and, if approved, what support would be needed to ensure the treatments reach the right people.

Feedback on this will help Pharmac decide how to proceed with this proposal. Consultation closes 4pm Friday 17 May and feedback can be emailed to