New treatment options for patients with multiple sclerosis

Media release Medicines

Funding for two new medicines will provide patients with more convenient options for treating multiple sclerosis.

PHARMAC has decided that from 1 February 2016, dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) and teriflunomide (Aubagio) will be fully funded from first diagnosis for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) who meet the listed criteria.

Director of Operations, Sarah Fitt, says the new treatments provide further treatment options for patients with MS, following the funding of natalizumab and fingolimod in November 2014.

“These new treatments will give patients with MS more convenient options for treatment, that they can access from a community pharmacy and take at home, without the need for an injection or infusions in hospital,” says Sarah Fitt.

“We are encouraging patients to have a discussion with their health care professional about the new treatment options available, and whether dimethyl fumarate or teriflunomide may be an appropriate option for them.”

Patients currently receiving funded MS treatments can choose to stay on their existing treatment, or change to the new treatments if they meet the funding criteria.

About 800 patients currently receive funded MS treatments in New Zealand.

Sarah Fitt says that currently available MS treatments will continue to be funded by PHARMAC and are available for patients who meet the criteria.