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Cystic Fibrosis Medicine Added To Pharmac’s Options For Investment List

Pharmac has announced that Vertex’s triple combination modulator therapy, known in some countries as Trikafta, has been added to the priority list of medicines it would like to fund.

In July this year, pharmaceutical company Vertex applied to Pharmac for its triple combination modulator therapy to be funded for people aged over 6 with cystic fibrosis.

“We’ve added this medicine to our options for investment list,” says Pharmac’s director of operations Lisa Williams. “We followed our usual process – we sought clinical advice from our Respiratory Subcommittee, and we undertook an economic health assessment.

Next month our Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) will assess all the evidence and provide additional advice to us which will help determine where the application is ranked, against all other medicines we would like to fund.

“Our clinical advisers tell us if a medicine has the evidence to back up the claims made by pharmaceutical companies. Our respiratory experts have reviewed this evidence and recommended that Pharmac fund Vertex’s triple combination modulator therapy. They gave this a high priority,” says Lisa. “We’ve published their clinical advice on our website. Using this information and our own economic health assessment, we have determined this is a medicine we would like to fund.”

“Before it could be funded by Pharmac, we would need a deal with the supplier and enough money in our budget to fund it. We would also need to ask New Zealanders what they think before we made any final decision to fund this new medicine.”

“We can’t shy away from the fact that it’s a very expensive medicine,” says Lisa. “While Pharmac can negotiate some of the best prices for medicines in the world, when faced with a medicine which has a patent with such a long patent life, such negotiations can be challenging.”

“As of today, there are 114 applications on our options for investment (OFI) list, and we would like to fund them all. They would all benefit patients if funded. This means we need to make some difficult choices and why prioritisation of these medicines is incredibly important.”

Learn more:

  • Cystic fibrosis is an inherited life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.
  • Vertex’s triple combination modulator therapy is called Trikafta in some countries, and Kaftrio in others. It is a combination of three different medicines - elexacaftor, tezacaftor and ivacaftor.
  • Vertex applied to New Zealand’s medicines and medical devices regulator, Medsafe, for market approval of their medicine in June 2021. Medsafe’s website shows they issued their first request for information to Vertex on 15 October 2021. It has been granted priority assessment status

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