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PHARMAC funds new treatment for skin cancers

13 August 2008

Media release

PHARMAC funds new treatment for skin cancers

A new treatment is being funded for people with a generally non-malignant form of skin cancer.

Imiquimod (Aldara) is a cream that people can apply themselves to treat basal-cell carcinoma. While surgery remains the most effective treatment for skin cancers, imiquimod is useful in treating people for whom surgery might be inappropriate.

Imiquimod has also been funded for the treatment of genital warts.

“We see this as a step forward for people with this particular type of skin cancer,” says Dr Dilky Rasiah, PHARMAC’s Acting Medical Director.

“At present most people who are treating themselves for basal-cell carcinoma would use a cream called fluorouracil sodium (5FU). We think that imiquimod will be preferred from now on because it has a high success rate with clearance of tumours and does not scar skin.”

PHARMAC estimates that about 1,800 people with basal cell carcinomas will be treated with imiquimod in the 2008/09 financial year, rising to about 4,500 by 2013. Together with its other uses, PHARMAC estimates nearly 12,000 people will be treated with imiquimod annually by 2013.

“Imiquimod is a cost-effective treatment compared to other products that could be funded. In addition to being an effective additional treatment for patients, imiquimod may free up capacity for DHBs by reducing demand for other, more expensive hospital services and specialist surgery,” says Dr Rasiah.

Imiquimod will be funded from 1 September 2008.


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