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New medicines improve options for respiratory conditions

Media release

New medicine listings improve treatment options for people with respiratory conditions

PHARMAC decisions to fund four new medicines will improve treatment options for over 10,000 people with a wide range of respiratory conditions.

From 1 November 2014 funding will be available for two medicines, glycopyrronium and indacaterol for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), omalizumab for severe allergic asthma, and an inhalation form of the antibiotic tobramycin for cystic fibrosis.

Director of Operations Sarah Fitt says there are currently limited medicine options for these conditions. Having further choice is likely to be welcomed by patients and clinicians, and lead to better outcomes.

“For example, patients with the more severe forms of allergic asthma are often admitted to hospital for treatment. Omalizumab is a new generation treatment for this form of asthma. It’s an injection that’s shown to be particularly effective in allergic asthma, and would likely help patients with the most severe forms better control their symptoms and avoid regular hospital treatment. About 180 patients over five years are likely to use omalizumab”.

At present only one medicine – tiotropium – is funded specifically for COPD.

“Having two further funded treatments specifically registered for the treatment of COPD symptoms provides greater choice and the ability to tailor treatment to the patient,” says Sarah Fitt.

PHARMAC estimates about 10,000 patients could benefit from these new COPD medicines over five years.

The inhalation form of tobramycin contains no preservatives and is specifically formulated for inhalation, which makes it more suitable for patients, she says.

The medicines have been funded as part of a major multi-product agreement with pharmaceutical company Novartis.


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