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


Prostate cancer treatment to be funded from 1 May

Media release

Prostate cancer treatment to be funded from 1 May

PHARMAC will begin funding for the prostate cancer treatment abiraterone (Zytiga) from 1 May 2015, potentially benefiting up to 1000 men annually.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly-diagnosed form of cancer among New Zealand men. Funding for abiraterone will be for men with an advanced form of prostate cancer, called metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Men will be able to receive funded abiraterone tablets either before or after chemotherapy.

The funding comes as part of a multi-product agreement with Janssen, which includes the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treatment Concerta; Topamax, a treatment for epilepsy; and Eprex, a treatment for anaemia.

Savings and rebates in the multi-product agreement have helped reduce the overall cost of abiraterone.

“PHARMAC is always looking to fund new treatments that provide health gains for patients,” says Director of Operations Sarah Fitt.

“Giving men an alternative to chemotherapy is a real benefit for them, and because it’s a tablet they won’t need to go to hospital to receive intravenous treatment.

“Clinical trials show abiraterone significantly improves the quality of life for men with advanced prostate cancer and extends life by around five months. That’s a real benefit for New Zealand men with advanced prostate cancer, a disease where current treatment options are limited.

“We’re pleased to be able to improve the outlook for men with this common cancer.”

Comment on abiraterone funding

Prostate Cancer Foundation

Prostate Cancer Foundation Chief Executive Graeme Woodside says the Foundation is delighted with the decision by PHARMAC to approve the funding of abiraterone for patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Mr Woodside says abiraterone is one of the innovative new treatments becoming available for men with advanced prostate cancer. There has been concern that while funding for it was available in other countries, such as Australia, UK and Canada, New Zealand men were unable to access this as a funded medication and some men were paying up to $5000 per month to privately fund their treatment.

“The Prostate Cancer Foundation congratulates PHARMAC and the supplier, Janssen, on reaching agreement on a supply arrangement that will give access to this medication, and new hope, to men with late stage prostate cancer,” says Mr Woodside.

Prof Ross Lawrenson, Midland Prostate Cancer Research Group

“We are very pleased to see that PHARMAC has authorised the funding of abiraterone. Our research has shown that metastatic prostate cancer is commonly found at diagnosis in New Zealand men with over 300 new cases annually. Māori men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with metastatic disease.

“Abiraterone provides an additional treatment option for these men and has been shown in clinical trials to increase life expectancy over and above our current treatments. It also means that there is an alternative to the use of chemotherapy in those men who have become resistant to hormonal treatment.

“This will be of particular relevance to older men, those with co-morbidities and those living some distance from a cancer treatment centre who are less likely to be suitable for treatment with chemotherapy.”


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


NZ Festival : The NZSO Goes To The Disco and more...

In the endless, anguished debates about how to make classical music more relevant to new audiences, proposals are often put forward to strip away certain elements – reduce the formality ... More>>


Howard Davis: Charlotte Yates' Mansfield Project

Katherine Mansfield's vapid verses are of even less interest than her over-rated short stories, but Yates has risen to the challenge of producing a fascinating compilation album by a variety of musicians to accompany her poetry. More>>

Howard Davis: Dazed & Confused by Beats

Beats is both a coming-of-age tale and a romantic movie about endings, set to a nostalgic backdrop of the disappearing tail of the UK's illegal rave scene. More>>

Howard Davis: And The Oscar Goes To … Parasite
For its deliciously dark wit and genre-bending ingenuity, Bong Joon-ho's latest movie has just won four out of a potential six Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Director. Only ten foreign-language films have previously been nominated for Best Picture and none have won before. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>

Over 150 Productions: NZ Fringe 2020 Has Launched

The upcoming festival will be held at 40 venues all over Wellington Region from 28 February to 21 March, and includes every genre possible—theatre, comedy, dance, music, clowning, cabaret, visual art, children’s shows and more! More>>





  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland