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Funding brings hope for 3000 diabetes patient

News Release

New drug funding brings hope for 3000 diabetes patients

Auckland, 25 August 2004 – An innovative medicine for type 2 diabetes is to be funded by PHARMAC for the first time in New Zealand from 1st September 2004. Actos is the first oral medication for type 2 diabetes to be funded for around 10 years and tackles insulin resistance1, the cause of the destructive disease that affects an estimated 200,000 New Zealanders.

The funding agreement makes Actos available to around 3000 patients with uncontrolled blood sugar levels giving them another much needed treatment option. It will be made available alone or in combination with other common diabetes therapies where current treatment has failed. The highest priority group of patients most likely to benefit are those who are significantly overweight and intolerant to commonly used treatment metformin.

Auckland diabetes specialist Dr Rick Cutfield said the agreement was excellent news for a small number of patients who could not use current treatments and were running out of options. “This class of medications, known as glitazones, is widely used by millions of people across the world and work differently from existing options. They help the body use its own insulin more effectively and studies suggest may slow the progression of the disease.

“The demand for treatment and numbers of patients with type 2 diabetes continues to grow at an alarming rate so new innovations in treatment are welcomed. Type 2 diabetes has very serious complications including heart disease, blindness and kidney failure but early diagnosis and treatment can minimise these risks. It is great to finally have a new funded treatment choice even for a limited number of patients.”

Diabetes currently affects about four percent of the total New Zealand population, but only an estimated half of the 200,000 people know they have it2. New Zealand Ministry of Health reports forecast an increase of over 60% of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by 20212.
Much of this increase will occur because of population growth, ageing, unhealthy diets, obesity and sedentary lifestyles. There is also a growing incidence of type 2 diabetes – which accounts for about 90% of all cases – at a younger age.

Eli Lilly and Company NZ Country Manager James Sleigh says the public funding is an enormous boost for diabetes patients. “Actos is a huge innovation in diabetes treatment. It reduces insulin resistance and allows the body to use its own insulin more effectively whereas all existing funded treatments are used to manage symptoms of the progression of diabetes.

“Actos will now be available to some of the patients most in need and gives them hope that slowing the progression of the disease and the damage it causes may be possible. Patients who are not eligible under the existing funding criteria will be able to buy Actos privately if they wish.”


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