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Decision Delay For Two New Diabetes Treatments

PHARMAC is taking more time to consider all the feedback it has received on a proposal to fund empagliflozin (with or without metformin) and dulaglutide for New Zealanders with type 2 diabetes.

In its proposal to fund these medicines PHARMAC advised that if it was approved by the PHARMAC Board, funding for empagliflozin would commence on 1 December 2020, and dulaglutide would be funded as soon as practicable following Medsafe approval.

“Consultation is a very important step in our process. 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,” says Lisa Williams, PHARMAC’s director of operations.

“With every consultation PHARMAC takes all feedback received into consideration before a final decision is made. We want to thank the 60 or so individuals, professional societies and advocacy groups who took the time to make submissions on this proposal.

While the feedback was overwhelmingly positive about funding the two medicines, there were some important concerns raised.

PHARMAC is now carefully considering the feedback received. Unfortunately, this means that our decision on these medicines will be delayed, and these medicines will not be funded from 1 December 2020 as originally proposed.

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“We understand that this delay is likely to be disappointing to many people,” says Lisa.

“At this stage, we do not have a firm timeframe for when a decision will be made. We understand the keen interest of many people in these medicines, so will update stakeholders on our progress and timeframes as soon as we can.”

Background information

PHARMAC funds a number of medicines and devices for the management of diabetes. These include metformin, vildagliptin and insulin. However, there are currently no SGLT-2 inhibitors or GLP-1 agonists funded in New Zealand.

Empagliflozin (with or without metformin) is an SGLT-2 inhibitor. SGLT-2 inhibitors limit the absorption of glucose in the kidneys, increasing the amount of glucose that is removed from the body in the urine and therefore reducing the amount of glucose present in the blood. Certain medicines in this class, including empagliflozin, have also been shown to improve heart and kidney outcomes in people with type 2 diabetes who are at high risk of these complications.

Dulaglutide is a GLP-agonist. GLP-1 agonists work by increasing the release of insulin and reducing the release of glucagon from the pancreas. GLP-1 agonists can slow digestion and reduce appetite. Dulaglutide does not currently have Medsafe approval.

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