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Open ended immunosuppressant access

Auckland, 29th September 2005

Open ended immunosuppressant access for transplant patients welcomed

– New Zealand kidney and heart transplant patients will have open ended access to the immunosuppressant Cellcept®(mycophenolate mofetil) from October 1st. Roche Products (New Zealand) Ltd and Government drug funding agency PHARMAC have agreed on a funding package giving patients access to the medicine for an unlimited time beyond the current one-year limit. The agreement also gives previous users the ability to switch back to Cellcept from their current immunosuppressant.

Cellcept belongs to a group of medicines called immunosuppressants. Immunosuppressants are used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, and work by stopping your immune system from reacting to the transplanted organ.1 Prior to the new funding agreement most patients had switched to a different treatment one year after the initial transplant.

This is no longer necessary with the additional funding to use Cellcept for an indefinite period and expansion from kidney patients only to include heart transplant patients.

Roche Products Sales and Marketing Director Stuart Knight says the company is very pleased patients can continue to benefit from Cellcept. “With a small number of donors each year in New Zealand and enormous costs involved in transplantation it makes sense to do everything you can to look after the recipients.

When people’s lives have stabilised after a year of living with a transplant the prospect of change can be extremely worrying. This agreement is fantastic news for those who have already successfully used Cellcept.”

In New Zealand around 100 kidney and 12 heart transplants are undertaken each year.2,3 Acute rejection rates are now low less than 20 per cent4 and recipients taking CellCept experience lower acute and chronic rejection rates than the most commonly used current therapy.5,6 CellCept patients show improved survival after both kidney5 and heart6 transplantation.

People who are currently or have previously been eligible for Cellcept should contact their transplant specialist to discuss maintaining their current treatment beyond the initial year or changing back to Cellcept.

New Zealand Kidney Foundation education manager Ms Carmel Gregan-Ford says the change is a welcome relief. “Transplantation changes people’s lives and when people make the decision to donate we must take every step to protect the organ for as long as possible. This change will potentially affect hundreds of New Zealanders with transplanted organs and hopefully reduce long term rejection rates which is fantastic news.”

ENDS


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