Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says 33,050 New Zealanders would benefit from July 1 this year from Pharmac’s latest funding proposals.

“The Government’s growing investment in Pharmac is enabling wider access and new medicines, benefitting thousands of New Zealanders,” Dr Coleman says.

“Pharmac has today commenced consultation on a new package covering three areas of medicine which means that from 1 July 2017 over 33,000 New Zealanders would benefit.

“The anti-infectives suite would benefit 24,500 New Zealanders, including a new listing which would benefit 21,500 children. Other treatments in this therapeutic area would provide both earlier treatment, longer treatment and widening access to existing medicine. The package includes:

Roxithromycinin tablets in dispersible form for children under 12, allowing up to 21,500 children to safely take this anti-biotic. Earlier access to four HIV anti-retrovirals, benefiting around 3,000 New Zealanders; Making a potentially curative treatment for hepatitis C available to an extra 45 people; Offering a drug which treats a lung disease in children for longer, benefitting around 350 kids, and; Adding a highly active hepatitis B anti-viral so patients have more options, benefitting another 70 people.

“A new insomnia medicine would also be made available for around 5,000 children and teenagers who suffer from neurodevelopment disorders. This would have an incredibly positive impact on the children, as well as their families.

“The oncology suite of medicines would benefit 1,350 people. It includes a new medicine for the treatment of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer caused by inhalation of asbestos fibres, and this medicine would also be available for those with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).  This means that the health system would be funding patients who have this particular lung cancer as a result of work and non-work injuries, as well as for those with NSCLC. Up to 550 patients per year are likely to benefit.”

From 1 July a further 2,000 New Zealanders would benefit from two new cardiovascular medications, and changes to a medication used by people living at home and in the community on dialysis. Pharmac has already begun consulting on these changes.

One of the new cardiovascular medications would benefit around 50 paediatric patients each year, while the changes to dialysis treatment would benefit around 500 people by improving dialysis use at home or in a community setting.

“Pharmac works within a fixed budget and looks for the best health gains for the greatest number of New Zealanders,” Dr Coleman says.

“These changes would in some cases save lives, in others they would dramatically improve the quality of life of the individual as well as their family.”

At any one time, Pharmac has a list of proposals for new medicines and medical devices which medical experts have recommended as a priority for any funds that become available through savings or budget increases.

Today the Government also announced the Pharmac’s budget for 2017/18 will reach a record $870 million – this means the Government has increased Pharmac’s annual budget by $220 million since 2008.

Further information is available on Pharmac’s website

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