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PHARMAC Ready To Recommend Funding For Glivec

PHARMAC Ready To Recommend Funding For Glivec – At An Affordable Price

PHARMAC would like to subsidise the chronic myeloid leukaemia drug Glivec, but the price needs to be lower, says PHARMAC Chief Executive Wayne McNee.

Currently Novartis is asking between $60,000 and $100,000 per patient per year, depending on the extent of their condition.

The clinical evidence is that Glivec is an effective drug for a small, well-defined group of patients for whom it may be life-prolonging. The problem is its extraordinarily high cost.

“PHARMAC aims to fund drugs that are effective, and Glivec certainly works. But we have to be responsible with the budget we have,” Wayne McNee says.

PHARMAC’s specialist committee, the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC), and its specialist cancer drugs sub-committee have recommended this drug be funded. But PTAC recommended that access to Glivec be limited due to its high price, and PHARMAC has to examine the cost of Glivec compared to other drugs when making its funding decisions.

“There are other drugs awaiting funding that could benefit a lot more people for the same cost, or less. If we fund this drug at the price Novartis is asking, many more patients who need other drugs will miss out. PHARMAC has to take all of these considerations into account when making these difficult funding decisions.

“PHARMAC does have money available to make some new investments, but PHARMAC has to be sure it is getting value for taxpayers and that is why we are asking Novartis to justify its high price. If Novartis was to drop its price to around $10,000 per patient per year, PHARMAC would ask its Board to approve funding, even though it would still be comparably, an expensive drug.”

Wayne McNee also refuted a statement from the leukaemia and blood foundation that it was planning to fund a direct-to-consumer advertising campaign from savings in the pharmaceutical budget.

“PHARMAC is working on a patient information campaign to make people with high cholesterol aware of ways to change their lifestyle to lower cholesterol, and of the treatments available. This is in line with its stated function to promote the responsible use of medicines,” Wayne McNee says.

The campaign will be funded by a pharmaceutical supplier, not from savings within the pharmaceutical budget.


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