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NZAF Worried Some Will Miss Out On New AIDS Drug

New drug welcome but NZAF worried some will still miss out

NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier says that Pharmac’s decision to make Kaletra, a new HIV/AIDS drug treatment, available in New Zealand is good news for people who are running out of treatment options. But, she is worried Pharmac’s criteria of eligibility for the drug will mean that some people in desperate need might still miss out.

Ms Le Mesurier said Pharmac was limiting the drug to people in the later stages of HIV/AIDS, with people’s eligibility determined by their having a low CD4 count (a measure of immune system cells).

“For some people with long term HIV/AIDS who have a dangerously low CD4 count, this will be good news. But others, who cannot tolerate other drugs but whose CD4 count is a littler higher, might not qualify for this new treatment.”

Ms Le Mesurier said Pharmac cannot claim Kaletra is fully funded while access to it is so restricted. She said international evidence suggests the drug is also very effective for early stages of HIV infection. She welcomes Pharmac’s promise to consider subsidising the drug for first-line treatment in November, however the ideal would be for Pharmac to make the drug fully available now, based solely on clinical need.

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