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PHARMAC Delivers Good News To People With Glaucoma

PHARMAC is providing more fully-funded treatments for the debilitating eye condition glaucoma, and widening access to existing treatments.

From 1 April, PHARMAC will fully subsidise a new combination treatment for glaucoma, an eye condition that can lead to blindness, and make some existing treatments more widely available by removing or changing Special Authority criteria.

PHARMAC is also able to make further changes in accessing glaucoma medications and listing the new products, following an agreement with pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme.

Under the agreement, PHARMAC is to fully subsidise a new combination eye drop, dorzolamide and timolol maleate, while widening access to dorzolamide eye drops. Dorzolamide is currently listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule, and is subject to Special Authority criteria. From 1 April, the Special Authority requirement will be removed and replaced with prescribing guidelines. Two other eye drops, timolol maleate with pilocarpine and timolol maleate gel-forming eye drops will also become fully subsidised.

In making the announcement, PHARMAC Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says the change also includes a change to access for latanoprost eye drops. Latanoprost, which is available for patients intolerant of other treatments or for those patients whose condition has progressed despite other therapies, has previously only been available when used as used on its own.

However, Peter Moodie says a change in the Special Authority criteria for latanoprost eyedrops means it can be used with other treatments if it has not been effective by itself .

“Ophthalmologists have raised the issue of combining treatments with us in the past, and we have acknowledged the points they have raised. PHARMAC uses Special Authority provisions to ensure treatments are targeted at those patients who are likely to gain most benefit. These steps mean that targeting remains in place while still allowing an extension to existing treatment regimes.

“These moves give more choice for prescribers and patients suffering from glaucoma, lists a new combination product, and give greater access to treatments that are already listed,” he says.

[ends]

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