Summary of decision: single inhaler triple-therapy for COPD

Update Hospital devices

Pharmac is funding a single inhaler triple-therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) through a multiproduct agreement with GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand (GSK).

How we've come to this decision

Pharmac has reached an agreement with the supplier, GSK, to fund three treatments and widen access to another treatment and a vaccine. As part of this agreement there are contractual changes to other medicines.

As Pharmac works within a fixed budget, negotiations like these with suppliers help us make more medicines available to more New Zealanders. 

Single inhaler triple-therapy for COPD

Fluticasone furoate with umeclidinium and vilanterol (branded as Trelegy Ellipta) will be funded for the respiratory disease COPD from 1 May 2024. 

COPD is a common lung disease and is the fourth leading cause of death in New Zealand. It is estimated to affect 15% of all New Zealanders aged over 45 years. Māori and Pacific peoples are more likely to be diagnosed with and are more severely impacted by COPD.

About 15,000 people will benefit from this decision in the first year of funding. 

Funding this triple therapy combination in a single inhaler means people will only need to use one inhaler instead of two or three.

What we heard during the consultation

We made some changes to the eligibility criteria to ensure that the funding best targets those who need treatment in line with current guidelines.

The eligibility criteria include a requirement to complete spirometry (a type of lung function test) and we heard that some people may be unable to complete this. Our clinical advice has highlighted the importance of this testing, but we have allowed people to access treatment if they have tried and are unable to complete this assessment. 

We have also amended the criteria so that people currently using multiple inhalers as part of their treatment will be able to transition to a single inhaler, provided they would have met the criteria prior to starting the multiple inhaler treatment.

What we will explore in the future

Options for widening access to this treatment (eg. asthma). could be considered through a separate funding application. An application would be required so we can identify the population group and assess the benefit of treatment for them through our usual funding process.