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Leading Asthma Medicine Now Available In NZ

News Release


One of the world’s leading asthma medicines now available to 670,000
New Zealand asthma patients


Auckland, 15th July 2003 – Seretide, the world’s most prescribed asthma preventer/controller inhaler is now available in New Zealand1. Developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Seretide is used by around 350,000 asthma patients in Australia and millions worldwide.

Seretide contains a preventer and controller medicine in a single CFC-free inhaler. It targets inflammation of the airways using the preventer medicine and constriction of the airways using the controller medicine (a long-acting beta agonist or LABA). Seretide is an effective and convenient treatment for people with mild to moderate asthma that improves their quality of life2,3.

GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand Vice President and Managing Director Ms Lisa Bright says GSK is delighted Seretide is now a real option for people with asthma. “Patients who have not experienced this type of inhaler before should feel the positive difference from the first dose. Seretide allows more patients to carry on their daily lives without restricting their activities for fear of stimulating an asthma attack. Patients sleep better because they wake up less frequently and their general lung function improves.

“Seretide is not subsidised by the public health system but GSK believes patients should have the choice of investing in a treatment that is widely available around the world and could improve the management of their asthma and their quality of life.*

“GSK has decided to make Seretide available in New Zealand for people who want to buy it and has done so in response to demand from doctors who recognise the substantial health benefits Seretide may offer over existing medicines used for mild to moderate asthma,“ says Ms Bright.**

The early introduction of Seretide for uncontrolled asthma is in line with guidelines of the British Thoracic Society (BTS) in the United Kingdom and the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA)4,5. New Zealand guidelines agree with these recommendations but doctors have been unable to use Seretide as it was not made available until May this year and remains an unsubsidised medicine6.

Changing to a medication like Seretide, is more effective than doubling preventer dose and may allow doctors to reduce the current dose of preventer medicine without worsening asthma control7,8. Over one million preventer inhalers were dispensed to NZ patients last month, the majority of who may benefit from considering Seretide9.

Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) board member and local respiratory specialist Professor Richard Beasley says he is relieved to see Seretide finally available to New Zealanders. “Overseas, Seretide has become an increasingly common treatment for patients with asthma but until recently it has not been available for New Zealand patients.

“GINA guidelines recommend that doctors should consider the early addition of an LABA for their patients who are not well controlled despite using preventer medicines. The New Zealand Guidelines agree in principle with GINA’s recommendations but doctors here have not been able to introduce other therapies because of funding restrictions applied to this type of medicine. In many other countries Seretide is viewed as an optimal treatment for asthma,” says Professor Beasley.

Seretide is available in three different strengths depending on the severity of people’s asthma and will be available in two different delivery devices - a CFC-free puffer and an Accuhaler dry powder device commonly used in Australia and the United States.

Asthma New Zealand Executive Director Gerry Hanna says, “Asthma New Zealand is a strong supporter of this type of therapy because of the benefits to patients. Patients who demonstrate a lack of control from their preventer medication on its own will notice a big difference with Seretide. It is also a well-researched fact that patients find using more than one inhaler a hassle. For these people a single inhaler is much more convenient.

“We are pleased to have Seretide available, as it brings the latest advance in the treatment of asthma to New Zealand and brings us in line with the rest of the world,” says Mr Hanna.

Seretide is one of a range of asthma treatments so patients should consult their doctor to find out if Seretide is suitable for them.

Prepared for GlaxoSmithKline by Communication by Design.

Notes:

*GSK recognises that even if new medicines are funded, only a small proportion of the patients who could benefit from them, based on the product licence and international guidelines, will have access to them.
GSK has elected to make a number of new medicines available to New Zealanders that are unlikely to receive broad funding over the next few years. These medicines have been well established in other countries like the European Union, Australia and the United States for a number of years.

**GSK recognises the importance of affordability. GSK has recommended a retail price (the total price a patient could expect to pay when picking up their prescription) for Seretide between $86 and $145 per month depending on strength of medicine. This is a suggested retail price only and each pharmacy can still decide on its own price.


What you should know about Seretide

Seretide (salmeterol xinafoate/fluticasone propionate) is an unfunded, prescription medicine. Seretide is not for relief of acute symptoms. Always carry your reliever inhaler. Do not discontinue seretide abruptly. Tell your doctor: if you are taking any other medicines or herbal remedies; if you have pulmonary tuberculosis (tb), a thyroid problem or a heart problem; or are having treatment for high blood pressure; Common side effects: 'shaky' feeling; headache; fast heart rate; irritation in the nose and throat. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns. The price of this medicine may vary across pharmacies. For more information see www.medsafe.govt.nz

References
1) GlaxoSmithKline data on file
2) Seretide data sheet on file, or available online from the New Zealand Medsafe website at http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/
3) Rees P.R et al, Combination of salmeterol/fluticasone propionate via Diskus improves quality of life in asthma patients; J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1999;103(1 PART-2):S69
4) New Zealand Guidelines Group. The diagnosis and treatment of adult asthma. Best practice evidence based guideline. September 2002.
5) British Thoracic Society. British Guidelines on Management of Asthma. January 2003.
6) Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. Scientific information and recommendations for asthma programs. April 2002.
7) Van Noord JA. Addition of salmeterol versus doubling the dose of fluticasone propionate in patients with mild to moderate asthma. Thorax 1999; 54:207-212
8) Busse W et al, Steroid sparing effects of fluticasone proprionate 100 mcg/salmeterol 50 mcg administered twice daily in a single product in patients previously controlled with fluticasone proprionate 250mcg administered twice daily. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Jan; 111(1):57-65
9) IMS unit sales data for inhaled corticosteroids in New Zealand; May 2003

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