Access widened to funded medicines

Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012

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Pharmac has spent more than $21.5 million on new drugs and widening access to publicly funded medicines in the past year.

Blood thinning drug Pradaxa, also known as dabigatran, was the most expensive new drug to be funded, with an estimated annual cost of $16 million.

Two new drugs targeting specific types of breast and kidney cancer were also added to the list of funded medications.

More people can access the drug rituximab, which is used to treat some kinds of lymphomas. Breast cancer drug docetaxel has also been made more widely available and access to funded treatment for Crohn's disease, Cystic fibrosis and asthma were widened.

The Government's drug-buying agency yesterday released its annual report for the year ending June 30, which showed 14 new medicines were funded in the past year and access to 10 others was widened.

An extra 56,840 patients were expected to benefit from the changes, on top of the record 3.3 million New Zealanders who received fully funded medication in the past year.

Pharmac stayed within its $777.4m budget in a year which saw it take on additional roles, including managing the national immunisation schedule and hospital medicines and medical devices.

It also contributed $379,000 towards a research trial in Finland looking at whether the nine week or 12-month duration of breast cancer drug Herceptin offers a better treatment.

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- The Dominion Post

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