Antivirals and monoclonal antibodies available for COVID-19
Thank you for your request under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA), partially transferred from the Ministry of Health to Pharmac on 5 April 2022 for information relating to medicines for COVID-19. You requested:
What antiviral medicines with proven efficacy for covid-19 have been cleared by Medsafe for use in NZ?
If there are any such antiviral medicines in NZ:
- how many doses are in the country of each medicine; and
- which have been distributed to DHBs?
What monoclonal antibodies with proven efficacy for covid-19 have been cleared by Medsafe for use in NZ?
If there are any monoclonal antibodies in NZ:
- how many doses are in the country of each medicine,
- and which have been distributed to DHBs?
Pharmac is making sure New Zealanders can access medicines to treat and prevent COVID-19. Details of COVID-19 treatments that have been funded, or are under consideration for funding(external link) (New Zealand’s COVID-19 treatments portfolio | Pharmac.govt.nz), are published on our website.
I understand that the Ministry of Health responded on 4 April 2022 to most of the questions raised within your request, including questions about what antiviral and monoclonal antibody medicines have been approved by Medsafe. Please refer to the information below, and to the Pharmac website (www.pharmac.govt.nz(external link)), for the latest updates regarding treatments for COVID-19.
You may also be interested in our published responses to other requests for information about COVID-19(external link) (Official Information Act responses | Pharmac.govt.nz).
COVID-19 treatments currently available are:
- Baricitinib (brand name Olumiant): JAK 1 and 2 inhibitor used to treat moderate to severe COVID-19.
We have secured an initial supply of enough baricitinib to treat 1,000 people, and this has been distributed to some DHBs around the country. In addition, Pharmac will be able to order additional stock as required.
- Casirivimab with imdevimab (brand name Ronapreve): combination of 2 monoclonal antibodies used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19.
We have secured supply of Ronapreve which we estimate would be sufficient to treat a maximum of 12,800 people throughout 2022. 5,300 courses of Ronapreve are currently available in New Zealand, with the rest of the stock to be delivered from April 2022.
- Molnupiravir (brand name Lageviro): used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19.
Pharmac entered into an advance purchase agreement in October 2021 to secure 60,000 treatment courses of molnupiravir. The first delivery of close to 30,000 courses arrived in New Zealand in late April 2022.
- Nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (brand name Paxlovid): oral antiviral medicine used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19.
Pharmac entered into an advance purchase agreement in late 2021 to secure 60,000 treatment courses of Paxlovid. The first delivery of Paxlovid arrived in New Zealand in late March 2022. Pharmac has received approximately half of the allocation of 60,000 treatment courses for 2022.
- Remdesivir (brand name Veklury): broad-spectrum antiviral used for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 considered at high risk of developing severe disease.
We are unable to provide information about the number of doses of Remdesivir available in New Zealand for COVID-19 as this figure is subject to a confidentiality agreement with the supplier and releasing the information would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the supplier (section 9(2)(b)(ii) of the OIA).
- Tocilizumab (brand name Actemra): intravenous humanised monoclonal antibody, used to help control the body’s inflammatory response in people with severe to critical COVID-19 illness.
We are unable to provide information about the number of doses of tocilizumab available in New Zealand for COVID-19 as it is used to treat a variety of indications using different dosing regimens and we have not allocated a specific number of doses for the treatment of COVID-19. Therefore, we have declined this portion of your request as we do not hold the information requested (section 18(g) of the OIA).
As required under the OIA, we also considered whether, in the circumstances, the withholding of information under section 9(2)(b)(ii) 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.