Number of people dispensed tocilizumab under Special Authority in financial year 2020/21

OIA response

28 September 2021 

Dear [name and contact details withheld] 

Request for information 

Thank you for your request dated 9 September 2021 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to the number of people dispensed tocilizumab in financial year 2020/21[1]. You requested: 

Number of patients receiving treatment with tocilizumab broken down by special authority for the past year, including patients currently on treatment 

Number of distinct people approved and dispensed tocilizumab in financial year 2020/21


Distinct people

Adult-onset Still's disease


Cytokine release syndrome


Idiopathic multicentric Castleman's disease


Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis


Previous use


Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rheumatoid Arthritis (patients previously treated with adalimumab or etanercept)


Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis




Total distinct people approved and dispensed tocilizumab



  • The number of people across indications cannot be combined to sum the total distinct people approved and dispensed tocilizumab in financial year 2020/21. This is because, where a person has received multiple Special Authority approvals with different indications during financial year 2020/21, they will be counted in multiple indications.
  • Not all people have identifiable indications. These have been labeled as 'unknown'.
  • The indication provided is the indication noted on the Special Authority application form by the applicant for units dispensed during the period the Special Authority was approved. Data on Special Authority indications can be of low quality so please use with caution.
  • A person is only added to the indication count if they were dispensed under an active Special Authority with the given indication in financial year 2020/21. 

Please note, we approach our assessment of requests for information under the OIA on the basis that once we release the information to you, it becomes available to any other party in that exact form (whether by you distributing it to others or by virtue of us receiving the same request from a different third party). 

Where 10 or fewer people are counted, we have changed the number shown to "≤10" as we believe this is necessary to protect the privacy of these people (section 9(2)(a) of the OIA). 

As required under the OIA, we also considered whether, in the circumstances, the withholding of this information was outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable, in the public interest, to make this information available. In this case we did not consider that the public interest outweighed the reasons for withholding the information. 

Please note you have the right, by way of complaint under section 28(3) of the OIA to an Ombudsman, to seek an investigation and review of our decision.

We trust that this information answers your queries. We are making our information more freely available, so we now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this. 

Yours sincerely 

Rachel Read
Manager, Policy and Government Services

[1] Pharmac's financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June.