News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Two New Targeted Cancer Drugs Funded In Agreement

2 March 2012

PHARMAC is funding two new targeted cancer medicines following an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline.

From 1 April 2012 PHARMAC will begin funding lapatinib (Tykerb) and pazopanib (Votrient). These two new orally administered treatments are designed to specifically target cancer cells. Lapatinib is used in patients with advanced, HER2 positive breast cancer, and pazopanib in advanced kidney cancer patients. Both will be funded as alternatives to the currently funded treatment options; trastuzumab (Herceptin) for advanced HER 2 positive breast cancer patients and sunitinib (Sutent) for advanced kidney cancer patients.

PHARMAC medical director Dr Peter Moodie says that in addition to expanding the range of treatment options available, both new treatments are pills that patients can take at home.

“The funding of lapatinib in particular will make treatment more convenient for those breast cancer patients who choose to receive it instead of trastuzumab, because it avoids the need for them to go to hospital every 3 weeks for infusion treatments,” says Dr Moodie. “It also means that if patients choose lapatinib rather than trastuzumab DHB hospitals will have additional capacity for treating cancer patients, which will help reduce waiting times for cancer treatment, one of the Government’s key health targets.”

As well as being taken in pill form, lapatinib is a smaller molecule than trastuzumab which means it can pass through the `blood/brain barrier’ – which may be an important factor in deciding the best treatment option for patients with advanced disease.

“The features of lapatinib make it a useful addition to funded treatment options. We know from the studies that it has a similar mode of action to trastuzumab, and it is effective in delaying the progression of HER 2 positive metastatic breast cancer, as is trastuzumab.”

Dr Moodie says that although targeted treatments generally have fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy treatments they do have their own toxicity issues, some of which can be serious. The funding rules for these treatments mean that, if patients experience early side effects on their first choice treatment, then they can have access to funding for the alternative treatment.

Pazopanib is the second targeted oral cancer treatment funded for metastatic renal cell carcinoma, following the funding of sunitinib (Sutent) in 2010. While both drugs have similar modes of action and appear to have similar benefits for patients, Dr Moodie says having an alternative treatment is useful in patients who experience early toxicity.

PHARMAC estimates that up to 180 patients per year will receive pazopanib or lapatinib, and that spending on the two drugs will be in the region of $15 million over five years. However, because of the drugs’ net cost compared with the currently funded treatment options for these patients overall the decision is cost-saving to DHBs.



© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland