Pharmac to fund new treatments for lung and ovarian cancer

Media release Medicines

Pharmac has confirmed today they are funding a bundle deal which will give New Zealanders more effective treatment options for lung cancer and ovarian cancer. The bundle deal also includes a new medicine for people with severe eosinophilic asthma.

The bundle deal with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is for:

  • durvalumab (brand name Imfinzi) for people with stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
  • widened access to olaparib (brand name Lynparza) to include first line treatment of people with certain types of high-grade ovarian cancer
  • benralizumab (brand name Fasenra) providing an additional treatment option for people with severe eosinophilic asthma, and
  • discounts on three already funded medicines - budesonide with eformoterol powder for inhalation (Symbicort Turbuhaler), fulvestrant (Faslodex) and gefitinib (Iressa)

“Access to these medicines should result in better health outcomes for those receiving treatment,” says Pharmac’s chief medical officer Dr David Hughes. “Durvalumab is a very effective treatment option for a group of people with stage 3 lung cancer. Olaparib will be funded earlier for people with a certain type of high-grade ovarian cancer. Benralizumab will be funded as an alternative treatment for those with severe eosinophilic asthma and for those who can’t use or don’t respond to mepolizumab.”

“Pharmac is committed to tackling inequities in access and outcomes,” says Dr Hughes. “We acknowledge that these conditions – lung and ovarian cancers and severe asthma – disproportionately affect Māori and Pacific people. We are reducing barriers where we can, and we hope that this would result in improvements in outcomes for our priority populations.”

“We know that to get the best from these treatments, early diagnosis is key. We also know that a high proportion of those with lung cancer are diagnosed at Stage 4. Pharmac still wants to fund immunotherapy treatments for people with later stages of lung cancer when we have funding available. The funding of durvalumab won’t limit our ability to do that.”

Bundle deals are made when Pharmac negotiates with one supplier for multiple medicines at a competitive rate. This gives Pharmac the flexibility to fund more new treatments and make treatments that are already funded available to more people. 

“This is the Pharmac model in action – funding more medicines for more Kiwis, by negotiating great deals with our suppliers.”