Pharmac publishes experts’ advice and seeks views on access criteria for COVID-19 treatments

Media release Medicines COVID-19

Current access criteria

Find the latest access criteria for COVID-19 antivirals

Pharmac is releasing meeting records of its COVID-19 Treatments Advisory Group and seeking feedback on the patient access criteria for two COVID-19 antiviral treatments – molnupiravir (Lagevrio) and nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (Paxlovid).

“To help us make decisions about COVID-19 treatments, we set up a COVID-19 Treatments Advisory Group,” says Dr David Hughes, Pharmac’s Chief Medical Officer. “They look at the evidence for these treatments, to help us understand how they could benefit New Zealanders.

“Today, we are releasing the records of the advice they provided in December 2021 and February 2022, on molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir with ritonavir. The records include their recommendations for proposed patient access criteria for both treatments.”

“Pharmac uses access criteria to ensure the medicines we fund are given to those with the highest health need and those most likely to benefit from the treatment,” says Dr Hughes.

Both molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir with ritonavir are recommended for those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. These are oral treatments, which means they can be taken at home. Treatment needs to start less than five days from symptoms onset.

“The access criteria that our experts have suggested, and that we are proposing, is for people with acute COVID-19 who are at high risk of progressing to severe disease” says Dr Hughes.

Read the consultation on access criteria

“Through our consultation process, we are asking health professionals and stakeholders, including consumer groups, for their feedback on the access criteria we are proposing. The consultation is also available on our website for anyone else wanting to have their say.”

“Getting vaccinated and boosted is the best defence against COVID-19. For those who do become unwell with COVID-19, I want to reassure New Zealanders that Pharmac is working as quickly as possible to assess, and secure access to treatments. We are doing this using specific funding allocated by the Government for the purchase of COVID-19 treatments, rather than from the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget,” concludes Dr Hughes.

Pronunciation guide

Molnupiravir | Mol-nu-pih-ra-veer

Paxlovid | Pax-low-vid