PHARMAC to fund more cancer medicines and faster assessment announced

Media release Medicines

Thousands of New Zealanders with lymphoma, breast, ovarian and blood cancers will have more treatment options available to them in the New Year.

PHARMAC has confirmed that two new medicines – olaparib for ovarian cancer and fulvestrant for breast cancer – have been approved for funding.

“This means five new cancer medicines have been funded in the last six months,” says Sarah Fitt, PHARMAC’s Chief Executive.

Rituximab and bortezomib, which are already funded, have also been approved for widened access following successful commercial proposals from new suppliers. This means more patients will be able to use these medicines and for longer.

Rituximab is currently funded for a range of cancer, blood and autoimmune conditions. Bortezomib is funded for the treatment of several types of blood cancer.

“We know people want funded access to effective cancer medicines as quickly as possible. Not only are we funding more cancer medicines, we are also speeding up our assessment process for new cancer medicines,” explains Sarah.

From 1 January 2020, PHARMAC will assess funding applications for new cancer medicines at the same time that Medsafe is undertaking its regulatory assessment. The change could shorten the overall time for PHARMAC to assess a new cancer medicine for funding by 12–15 months. This initiative was part of the Ministry of Health’s Cancer Action Plan announced in September this year.

Between 1 July and 31 October 2019, PHARMAC has approved the funding of 7 new medicines and widened access for 20 medicines. Nearly 34,000 people are expected to use these medicines in the first year.

Decision to widen access to rituximab and award sole supply

Decision to widen access to bortezomib for multiple myeloma and AL amyloidosis

Decision to fund two new cancer treatments: olaparib and fulvestrant