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PHARMAC invests $103 million in NZers’ health

Media release

PHARMAC invests $103 million in NZers’ health

An extra $103 million is being invested in New Zealanders’ health over the next five years as a result of recent pharmaceutical funding decisions.

PHARMAC Chief Executive Wayne McNee says the current financial year, which began on 1 July, has seen a continued acceleration in PHARMAC’s programme of new investments.

Funding decisions made since 1 July have included adding new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, pain, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. Access has also been widened to treatments for transplant rejection, diabetes, osteoporosis and asthma.

Further new funding decisions are in the pipeline including treatments for some forms of cancer, and for diabetes.

The largest single funding decision made this year has involved the rheumatoid arthritis drug adalimumab (Humira). The drug is one of a relatively new class of treatments called TNF alpha inhibitors and helps to halt the progression of arthritis.

“At $35 million over five years the listing of adalimumab is by far the largest investment we have made so far this year,” Wayne McNee says.

“We’re delighted to be able to put these decisions in place, and are confident that they will both improve people’s health and, in some cases, produce downstream savings in other areas of health spending.”

“For example, an increase in the number of people taking alendronate for osteoporosis could reduce the number of hip replacements in the future. And low-dose aspirin has good evidence to show that it is an effective and low-cost way of avoiding heart attacks and strokes.”

Wayne McNee says PHARMAC continues to carefully assess the treatments it is funding, and adds: “We remain committed to giving New Zealanders better access to new medicines, and making sure that money is spent on medicines that add value to current treatment options.”

The pharmaceutical budget for 2006 is $582 million, an increase of 3.2% over 2005, and PHARMAC has an agreed three-year funding pathway for pharmaceuticals which includes ongoing increases in the budget.

“The full impact of the funding decisions we have made this year will be felt in the future,” he adds. “We are pleased that there is a commitment to ongoing increases in expenditure, as this will enable us to continue to fund the medicines that are already subsidised, and to add more medicines that will improve the health of New Zealanders.”

Investments to date in 2005-06.

Drug Investment type Treats 5-year investment (NPV)
New medicine Rheumatoid arthritis $35 million
Alendronate Wider access Osteoporosis $8.9 million
Gabapentin Wider access Pain relief $18 million
Low-dose aspirin New medicine Heart disease $17 million
Mycophenolate Wider access Transplant rejection $8 million
Oxycodone New medicine Pain relief $5 million
Pioglitazone Wider access Diabetes $0.7 million
Ropinirole and entacapone New medicines Parkinsons Disease $2.4 million
Salmeterol Wider access Asthma $8 million
Total $103 million


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