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PHARMAC agrees funding for brain tumour treatment

3 April 2006

PHARMAC agrees funding for brain tumour treatment

A new treatment for people with an aggressive form of brain tumour is to become fully subsidised from 1 May 2006.

Funding for temozolomide (Temodal) has been approved by PHARMAC for patients who are undergoing radiotherapy, and for a further six cycles of treatment following radiotherapy. Funding will be for newly diagnosed patients, and for those patients who may have already commenced treatment before 1 May 2006, and is anticipated to cost $6.5 million over five years.

About 100 patients per year are expected to receive funded access.

PHARMAC Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says for those patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive form of brain tumour, temozolomide offers a beneficial treatment that can extend their life expectancy.

“The evidence shows that this is a treatment that can extend life, and we are pleased to be able to fund it,” Dr Moodie says.

“PHARMAC and its expert clinical committees looked very carefully at the evidence. It shows that temozolomide can make a difference for patients who have temozolomide with radiotherapy in the early stages after diagnosis, and this is why it is those patients who will receive funding.”

Though analysis shows that temozolomide is less cost-effective than some other medicines PHARMAC is looking at funding, the listing is justified on other grounds such as the limited treatment options for brain tumour patients.

Funding does not extend to patients with relapsed glioblastomas, however PHARMAC remains open to the possibility of funding temozolomide for relapsed patients should new evidence become available.

Dr Moodie acknowledged the co-operation of temozolomide’s supplier Schering-Plough, which had worked constructively with PHARMAC to move quickly through the application, assessment and subsidy process.

ENDS

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