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PHARMAC Seeking Views On Widened Access To Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Medicines

PHARMAC is looking at widening access to three funded treatments – adalimumab, etanercept and tocilizumab – to enable more young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis to benefit from these medicines.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints of children and young people. Currently adalimumab, etanercept and tocilizumab are funded for people with JIA who have trialled intra-articular steroid injections and have either 20 swollen, tender joints or four swollen, tender joints of the wrist, elbow, ankle, knee, should, cervical spine and/or hip.

PHARMAC is proposing to widen access to these medicines to treat people with JIA who have five swollen joints (at least three with limitation of motion), without the need for a trial of intra-articular steroid injections. PHARMAC is also proposing to widen access to adalimumab and etanercept to include treatment of people with oligoarticular course juvenile idiopathic arthritis, where fewer than five joints are affected.

Consultation has gone out today to health professionals and is available on the PHARMAC website for anyone wanting to have their say about the proposal.

“Consultation is a very important step in our process,” says deputy medical director Dr Peter Murray. “It’s how we check that what we are proposing can be implemented by the health sector and that the people who will get the most benefit from the medicines will be able to access them.”

If, after considering feedback to consultation, the proposal is approved, then approximately 65 new patients per year could access funded adalimumab, etanercept and tocilizumab from 1 December this year.

“Widening funded access to these treatments would result in reduced joint damage and pain, improve mobility and quality of life and provide some patients with long-term remission,” says Dr Murray. “

“PHARMAC is committed to continuing our work to fund more medicines for more New Zealanders, delivering the best possible health outcomes possible.”

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