More treatments available to 30,000 New Zealanders

Media release Medicines

Pharmac has decided to fund several medicines and widen access to two others, a move that will benefit more than 30,000 people.

Dr David Hughes, Director Advice and Assessment/Chief Medical Officer, says the decision followed a public consultation and covers treatments for ovarian cancer, lung disease, HIV, a rare condition affecting blood vessels, and for people at high risk of getting shingles.

“These medicines are going to make a big difference to people’s lives."

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to negotiate a bundle agreement with the supplier GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for these medicines. By finding savings on some medicines, we can support the funding of others, to make funded treatment options available to more people.”

The decision includes:  

  • Funding a maintenance treatment for ovarian cancer, niraparib (branded as Zejula), from 1 May 2024, which will benefit 110 people in the first year of funding.
  • Funding the first single inhaler triple-therapy will be funded from 1 May 2024. Fluticasone furoate with umeclidinium and vilanterol (branded as Trelegy Ellipta) will benefit around 15,000 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the first year of funding. For most people, this will mean switching from using two or three separate inhalers to using just one.
  • Funding a treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), dolutegravir with lamivudine (branded as Dovato), from 1 May 2024. About 900 people are expected to switch from their current treatment to this in the first year of funding.
  • Widening access to mepolizumab (branded as Nucala) for relapsed or refractory eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), a rare vasculitis condition from 1 May 2024. 
  • Widening access to the shingles vaccine for some people who are immunocompromised and at high risk of getting shingles from 1 July 2024. This will affect 15,000 people in the first two years of funding, in addition to people who are 65 years old who can access the vaccine.

Jane Ludemann, Founder of the Ovarian Cancer Foundation, is delighted to see niraparib funded for New Zealanders with high-grade serous ovarian cancer. “It will be life-changing for so many women with ovarian cancer to have access to a modern medicine." 

"We're encouraged to hear that Pharmac will continue to consider extending access to this treatment to women with high-grade serous endometrioid cancer."

"Our community has told us having this treatment available will give them more time to spend with their whānau and help them know they’ve tried everything they can to be around to make more memories. As ovarian cancer is the least survivable women's cancer, this is a significant step forward.”

Dr James Fingleton, Medical Director of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation believes this treatment for COPD will positively impact equitable outcomes for the community.

“We want to see people with severe COPD have a treatment option that will provide them the most benefit. Having this triple-therapy available will help people to deal with their symptoms. We’re really pleased Pharmac listened to our feedback and have made appropriate changes enabling our prescribers to give this treatment as needed.”

Pronunciation guide

Niraparib - nir-rap-ah-rib

Fluticasone with umeclidinium and vilanterol – floo-tik-a-sone / ue-mek-li-din-ee-um / vye-lan-ter-ol

Dolutegravir with lamivudine – doe-loo-teg-ra-vir / la-mi-vue-deen

Mepolizumab – me-poe-liz-ue-mab