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Four into one for new HIV TREATMENT

Media release                                                            Thursday, December 21 2006

Four into one for new HIV TREATMENT

People taking four tablets a day for HIV will soon only need to take one, following a funding decision by PHARMAC

In the latest decision concerning HIV medicines, the government drug-buying agency will fund fixed-dose abacavir and lamivudine (Kivexa) from January 1, 2007. Kivexa is a combination of two medicines that are already subsidised for people with HIV.

PHARMAC estimates that nearly 250 patients will find it more convenient to take their medicine as a result of the decision.

PHARMAC’s deputy medical director Dr Dilky Rasiah says that currently, the people with HIV being treated with abacavir and lamivudine need to take four pills a day. From 1 January, that will change to just one pill once a day.

“The change will mean treatment is easier for patients, prescribing is easier for doctors and dispensing is easier for pharmacists,” she says.

“This means it will be easier for people to take their medicine properly, which is important in combination HIV therapy to avoid drug resistance.”

Standard treatment with HIV is to use combination therapy with three or more antiretroviral drugs.

There are no differences between the effect of the combined and separate forms of abacavir and lamivudine, Dr Rasiah says.

As well as helping people with HIV, the decision is also expected to produce cost savings for District Health Boards, as the combination pill is cheaper than the individual medications.  Savings are estimated at nearly $1.5 million over five years.

There are approximately 1,300 people diagnosed with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) in New Zealand. Of these, about 700 people are receiving antiretroviral therapy.


PHARMAC currently funds four classes of antiretroviral drugs. Most recently, PHARMAC has approved funding for a new class of drug (Fuzeon) and for a new type of protease inhibitor (Reyataz).












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