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Pharmac To Consult On Glivec Access Criteria

PHARMAC is to begin consultation on access criteria for the chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) drug Glivec (imatinib mesylate).

The move follows a recommendation from the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC), and its Cancer Treatments Sub-committee (CaTSOP), who both recommended that PHARMAC examine funding Glivec for patients in the more advanced stages of CML, the accelerated and blast crisis phases.

PHARMAC and the suppliers of Glivec, Novartis, remain in discussions over the drug but have not yet reached an agreement.

PHARMAC chief executive Wayne McNee says: “PHARMAC has indicated its desire to fund this drug, but the key issue for us remains its extremely high price. We now want to hear the views of the community on this proposal before proceeding further.”

Consultation will take place over a four-week period, and PHARMAC will consider the feedback it receives before taking a further proposal to the PHARMAC Board.

Details of the consultation document will be finalised soon and distributed to clinicians, pharmacists and interested groups, and posted on the PHARMAC website ( PHARMAC estimates the proposal would encompass about 20 patients and cost between $75,000 and $105,000 per patient per year.

“While we are initially looking at criteria for the two most advanced stages of CML, access for patients in the chronic phase will continue to be reviewed.”

Wayne McNee says the available evidence shows Glivec to have significant benefits for patients with CML, but its long-term effects are not yet fully known and its high cost needs to be balanced against other competing demands on the pharmaceutical budget.

Novartis is supplying Glivec free to 30 patients on its extended access programme, and has agreed to continue supplying those patients for free until an agreement is reached with PHARMAC.


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