Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Pharmac To Fund New Arthritis Drug

Pharmac has reached an agreement with Aventis Pharma Ltd to fully fund the arthritis drug leflunomide.

The agreement will see leflunomide (brand name Arava) listed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis from 1 May 2002.

“Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful and debilitating disease so it is pleasing to be able to offer patients another fully funded drug to counter its effects,’’ says PHARMAC medical director Dr Peter Moodie. “This will come as good news for patients who now have a further option to existing subsidised drugs.”

Rather than being a drug that only treats the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, leflunomide is a disease modifying anti rheumatic drug (DMARD) that also targets the underlying cause. Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressively worsening autoimmune disease in which the body's natural immune system attacks healthy joint tissue causing inflammation and joint damage. Leflunomide suppresses the immune system and has a more rapid onset of action than other DMARDs.

Several DMARDs are already listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule, such as methotrexate and sulphasalazine, but they are not suitable for all patients and some patients become intolerant of them. Leflunomide will provide an extra option for patients who have found they cannot use those drugs.

Leflunomide will be targeted at those who are intolerant of, or who aren’t responding sufficiently to, existing methotrexate and sulphasalazine.

Since it has considerable toxicity, like other DMARDs leflunomide needs to be used with great care, and this is why PHARMAC has developed Special Authority criteria, Peter Moodie says.

“Arava is an expensive drug and also one which can produce adverse effects even if used carefully. That’s why in this case it is wise to have Special Authority criteria in place to ensure the drug is targeted at people who will gain benefits from it. Clinical trials have shown that though it can be as toxic as existing immunosuppressant agents, it can be effective as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis for patients for whom there is no other treatment available.”

“The Special Authority criteria have been developed in consultation with the New Zealand Rheumatology Association, this should ensure they correctly target leflunomide to those patients who will gain most benefit.”

Extending full subsidy to three dosage strengths of leflunomide is estimated to cost about $3.5 million over five years.

PHARMAC’s agreement with Aventis also involves a price reduction for the angina and high blood pressure drug diltiazem (Cardizem). Under the agreement, the price of diltiazem will be maintained at current levels for three years.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election