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Constructive Relationship Benefits Patients

Constructive Relationship Benefits Patients – PHARMAC And MSD

More people suffering from osteoporosis will now have access to the drug alendronate (brandname FOSAMAX) following a new agreement between PHARMAC and pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme.

PHARMAC General Manager Wayne McNee says the agreement, which also includes the fully funding of other drugs, has come about through the two parties working constructively together.

More than three times the current number of patients receiving alendronate for osteoporosis can receive the drug fully funded, following the agreement to widen access.

Alendronate will now be fully funded to patients who have had one fracture as a result of osteoporosis, and who have a low bone mass density (-3). In New Zealand the treatment is used to treat severe osteoporosis, and PHARMAC says the number of people using this treatment will increase from 1,320 to potentially 4,300.

Thanks to significant price reductions provided by Merck Sharp & Dohme on a number of drugs and through the prevention of fractures and hospitalisation, the decision is expected to save $21.5 million over the next five years to the health sector as a whole. It is estimated that an additional 65 fractures a year could be prevented as a result of this decision.

Merck Sharp & Dohme Managing Director Alister Brown says through working together an agreement has been reached that is a good result for everyone, patients, the health sector and MSD.

“It is pleasing that more patients will have access to Fosamax as osteoporosis is a serious illness affecting quality of life of many New Zealanders.

“In New Zealand and around the world Fosamax is indicated for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. The widening of patient access provided by this agreement is a step in the right direction.

“With three of our heart medications due to come off patent in the first half of this year, we were pleased to make the wider access of Fosamax possible by offering Pharmac price reductions now, in advance of the reductions expected when these patents expire.”

As part of the agreement with Merck Sharp & Dohme, a once weekly formulation of alendronate, which is more convenient for patients to take, will also become fully funded.

Wayne McNee says the announcement is not only good news for people with osteoporosis. Patients affected by heart disease and lipid disorders will also benefit from more drugs becoming fully funded, while doctors will have a greater choice for these patients.

“We have been able to widen access for osteoporosis patients and at the same time make savings which can then be redirected into other health areas. The drug budget is finite and it is important we continue to get the best value possible to make the funding go as far as it can.”


For more information contact:

PHARMAC General Manager Wayne McNee.
Phone (025) 429-212.

Phil Johnstone, Merck Sharp & Dohme
Phone (09) 262 9707. Mobile (021) 281 7584.

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