Pembrolizumab criteria

OIA response

Request dated 10 April 2019 for information relating to pembrolizumab criteria.

[Name and contact details redacted]

13 May 2019

Dear [Name redacted]


Thank you for your request dated 10 April 2019 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to pembrolizumab. You asked for details on the criteria for the use of pembrolizumab and whether we are considering changes to the criteria.

PHARMAC sought specialist clinical advice on this from the Cancer Treatments Subcommittee (CaTSoP) in September 2016. A copy of these minutes can be found via the following link. 

At this meeting CaTSoP considered the funding criteria for PD-1 inhibitors (pembrolizumab and nivolumab). This included the criteria for advanced melanoma patients so that patients who have had time off treatment for reasons other than disease progression or toxicity could recommence treatment upon signs of relapse.

CaTSoP noted that while there was no data to support the use of PD-1 inhibitors in this way it would be reasonable for patients who stopped treatment in these situations to recommence.

A decision to change the special authority criteria has not at this stage been made. Potential changes to the special authority criteria for PD-1 inhibitors for melanoma to allow restarting treatment are under consideration by PHARMAC. There remains uncertainty regarding the optimal use of PD-1 inhibitors and PHARMAC is monitoring the evidence as it develops.

If a decision were to be made it would be the subject of a public consultation process and would appear on PHARMAC’s website.

Thank you for writing to us to share your experiences with us. We trust that the provision of this information answers your queries, if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us again.

Yours sincerely

[Alison Hill's signature]

Alison Hill
Director, Engagement and Implementation