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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Patients Celebrate Pharmac Decision

On 2 December 2020, braving the wind and rain, Crohn’s and Colitis NZ Charitable Trust led a march of patients and medical professionals to the steps of Parliament. The purpose was to present a petition with over thirty thousand signatures pleading for funding of ustekinumab, an urgently needed medication to treat people with severe Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The medication, also known by its brand name Stelara, is funded in over 35 other OECD countries.

Today, Pharmac announced it has initiated their consultation process to fund the medication, anticipating it being made available to patients with IBD who have failed to respond to other medications in February, 2023.

Dr. Richard Stein, Chair of CCNZ said. “without newer medications, many patients with IBD, primarily children, teens, and young adults, face a life of debilitating symptoms, including pain and bloody diarrhoea, often resulting in repeated surgeries and hospitalisations. The impact on these patients, their whanau, and, ultimately, the entire country is immeasurable. Many patients have been putting important life events on hold, trying to postpone surgeries in the hopes this medication would be become funded soon”.

Belinda Brown, CEO of CCNZ, notes that “there are over 20,000 people with IBD in New Zealand, which has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world and the incidence of these diseases is increasing. I want to thank the entire IBD community who worked so very, very hard to voice their need for newer, state-of-the-art medications”.

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This announcement comes on the heels of the recent announcement that another medication, vedolizumab (Entyvio) is also undergoing the consultation process for the treatment of severe IBD.

CCNZ applauds these recent Pharmac decisions. The ability to fund these medications underscores the impact of better funding of the agency.

The deadline for this consultation process is 4pm on Wednesday, 26 October 2022. Please email consult@pharmac.govt.nz with your feedback.

CCNZ would like to thank the patients, their family and friends, and the medical specialists who have supported the #wecantwait campaign.

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