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Diabetes drug access widened

Media Release

Diabetes drug access widened for 4000 patients with HbA1c over 8%

Auckland, 1 August 2005 – Access to type 2 diabetes medicine Actos (pioglitazone) is to be significantly widened in a new agreement between PHARMAC and Eli Lilly. The original access criteria implemented a year ago have proven difficult to meet with PHARMAC now expanding them to allow an estimated 4000 patients to benefit from Actos.

Actos was the first oral medication for type 2 diabetes to be funded for around 10 years and tackles insulin resistance helping the body use its own insulin more effectively1. It will be available to patients from August 1st as a single therapy or in combination with several other common diabetes medications. People with an HbA1c (blood haemoglobin glucose level) of over 8% may now be eligible for Actos*.

Christchurch diabetes specialist Professor Russell Scott said the agreement was great news for patients who have struggled to meet the existing criteria and were potentially running out of options. “Over the last year specialists have experienced frustration as many people with poorly controlled diabetes who could have benefited from Actos fell short of the access criteria. We are delighted the changes recommended to PHARMAC have been acknowledged and adopted.”

“The demand for treatment and numbers of patients with type 2 diabetes continues to grow at an alarming rate so treatments that can potentially slow the progression of the disease 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.”

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 change is an important step in the advancement of diabetes treatment in New Zealand. “Diabetes is a complex condition with people often on variable doses of several medications to manage it. Agreeing on a funding package to meet the needs of these patients has been a huge challenge with the limited funds available.”

“Many other countries have been using Actos for a broad range of patients for some time and the benefits are well established. Based on this evidence many New Zealanders who did not meet the criteria had chosen to buy these types of unfunded medicines themselves. This may no longer be necessary under the new criteria, as significantly more people will now qualify.”

- ENDS -

*Specific access criteria for Actos can be reviewed at or by contacting a diabetes specialist who can assess an individual’s eligibility.

Prepared for Eli Lilly by Communication by Design.

About Eli Lilly and Company NZ Ltd

Eli Lilly and Company NZ Ltd is part of one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies. It provides innovative pharmaceuticals to New Zealanders concentrating on oncology, diabetes, mental health, critical care and erectile dysfunction.

Worldwide Eli Lilly employs some 46,000 people in 138 countries with over 8,700 employees engaged in research and development. It is an innovation-driven corporation committed to developing a growing portfolio of best-in-class and first-in-class pharmaceutical products that help people live longer, healthier and more active lives.


1. Actos data sheet

2. Ministry of Health – Diabetes in New Zealand

What you should know about Actos

Actos® is a PRESCRIPTION MEDICINE for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus inadequately controlled by diet. Consult your doctor if Actos is right for you. Actos should not be used in cardiac patients with NYHA Class 111 and 1V cardiac status, pregnant or breast-feeding women, Type 1 diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis. Caution for people with liver disease or abnormal liver tests and patients with fluid retention. Treatment with Actos in premenopausal anovulatory patients with insulin resistance may cause resumption of ovulation and therefore risk pregnancy. Possible weight gain may occur. Low blood sugar levels may result if Actos is used in combination with insulin and sulphonylurea. Loss of contraception may result with concomitant treatment with oral contraceptives and thus a higher dose of oral contraceptive or an alternative method of contraception should be considered.
Possible adverse effects (>2% of patients) are upper respiratory tract infection, headache, sinusitis, muscle pain, fluid retention, back pain, urinary tract infection, pharyngitis, fatigue, cramps and abnormal vision. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor. Actos is fully funded under Special Authority criteria from a relevant specialist. Further information is available in the Consumer Medicine Information [CMI].Tablets contain pioglitazone 15, 30 or 45mg. Eli Lilly, Auckland.

TAPS No. NA9697

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