New agreement makes more medicines available to treat range of health conditions

Media release Medicines

Up to 50,000 New Zealanders per year will benefit from a new multiproduct agreement PHARMAC has reached with Novartis, which makes more funded medicines available for a wide range of health conditions.

People living with conditions such as chronic heart failure, severe psoriasis, type 2 diabetes, severe asthma and the bone marrow disorder myelofibrosis will be among those who will benefit from this agreement,” says Lisa Williams, PHARMAC Director of Operations.

The agreement includes funding of five new treatments, as well as widened access to three currently funded treatments.

“These medicines are going to make a real difference to the everyday lives and wellbeing of people who, in some cases, are living with very severe conditions and symptoms,” says Ms Williams.

Treatments include an innovative new drug that will be funded for people who’ve experienced severe heart failure, and people living with severe psoriasis will have access to a new medicine to help manage the extreme discomfort that’s often associated with their long-term skin condition.

Other new treatments include a medicine funded for the bone marrow disorder myelofibrosis will have a big impact for those living with this condition, which often results in extreme weakness and fatigue.

People living with type 2 diabetes will also have access to a new class of drug that can help manage their blood sugar levels, without the side-effects that can be experienced with other medication, such as weight gain and hypoglycaemia, or extremely low blood sugar.

“This is the PHARMAC model in action,” says Ms Williams.

“PHARMAC has been working hard with Novartis to negotiate a deal that will benefit so many New Zealanders.

“These sorts of bundle agreements are great as it gives PHARMAC the flexibility to fund new treatments while making treatments that already funded available to more people.

The decisions take effect from 1 October 2018.

More information can be found in the notification on the PHARMAC website. 

Overview of multiproduct agreement

Five new treatments

  • Vildagliptin (Galvus) for type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Vildagliptin with metformin (Galvus Met or Galvumet) for type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Secukinumab (Cosentyx) for severe chronic plaque psoriasis
  • Sacubitril with valsartan (Entresto) for chronic heart failure
  • Ruxolitinib (Jakavi) for myelofibrosis

Widened access to three currently funded treatments

  • Eltrombopag (Revolade) for idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) contraindicated to splenectomy and severe aplastic anaemia
  • Omalizumab (Xolair) for chronic spontaneous urticaria and severe asthma 
  • Tacrolimus (Tacrolimus Sandoz) for non-transplant indications

Amended contractual terms (including pricing, rebates and protection periods)

  • Basiliximab (Simulect) for use in solid organ transplant 
  • Fingolimod (Gilenya) for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis

Further information

Therapeutic area

What's changed


Patient numbers (estimated patient numbers after 5 years)


New funding for vildagliptin (Galvus) and vildagliptin with metformin (Galvumet) without funding restrictions for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body can’t make or make good use of insulin produced in the pancreas, leading to raised blood glucose levels. Over time this leads to damage of the body and failure of various organs and tissues.



New funding forsecukinumab (Cosentyx) for the treatment of severe chronic plaque psoriasis, subject to Special Authority criteria.

Chronic plaque psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune condition, resulting in patches of thick, scaly skin.


Widened access to omalizumab (Xolair) to include a new indication of chronic spontaneous urticaria, subject to Special Authority criteria.

Chronic spontaneous urticaria is a condition that results in itchy red or skin-coloured welts (hives) which happen every day for 6 weeks or more.

138 extra people (including people using omalizumab for respiratory illnesses)


New funding for sacubitril with valsartan (Entresto) for the treatment of chronic heart failure, subject to Special Authority criteria

Chronic heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, is when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should.



New funding for ruxolitinib (Jakavi) for the treatment of myelofibrosis, subject to Special Authority criteria.

Myelofibrosis is a serious bone marrow disorder that disrupts the body’s normal production of blood cells, causing scarring to the bone marrow that leads to severe anemia, weakness and fatigue.


Widened access to eltrombopag (Revolade) to include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura contraindicated to splenectomy and severe aplastic anaemia, subject to new criteria.

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) contraindicated to splenectomy, and severe aplastic anaemia – ITP is a blood disorder that can lead to excessive bruising and bleeding, resulting from unusually low levels of blood platelets (the cells that help blood clot).

20 extra people


Widened access to omalizumab (Xolair) to include the treatment of severe asthma.

Severe asthma is when the symptoms of asthma, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, are particularly severe and difficult to control with inhaler medication like fluticasone (Flixotide) or oral steroids like salbutamol (Ventolin).

138 extra people (including people using omalizumab for dematology illnesses)


Widened access to Tacrolimus (Tacrolimus Sandoz) for non-transplant indications

Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressive drug used mainly after organ transplant to lower the risk of rejection. However, it can also be used as a treatment outside of the transplant context, eg to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

1,000 extra people