Monday, July 15, 2024

Multiple Myeloma Treatments Now Accessible to More Patients

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Multiple myeloma treatment options are expanding, as Te Pātaka Whaioranga broadens the range of available therapies, significantly enhancing patient care for this and other blood disorders. Beginning August 1, lenalidomide will have wider accessibility, and pomalidomide will be funded for the first time. These advancements will enable nearly 4,000 additional people to benefit from these medicines over the next five years.

“From 1 August, we’re widening access to lenalidomide and we’re also funding pomalidomide for the first time, so people can live well and spend more time with their friends and whānau,” says Geraldine MacGibbon, Pharmac’s Director Pharmaceuticals.

Increased Access to Lenalidomide for Multiple Myeloma Patients Through Pharmac’s Strategic Move

By changing the funded brand of lenalidomide to Lenalidomide Viatris through a competitive procurement process, Pharmac has been able to increase access to this crucial medication. This strategic move ensures that individuals with multiple myeloma can utilize lenalidomide at any stage of their treatment and even resume the medication if they had previously responded well to it.

Additionally, people with myelodysplastic syndrome will also benefit from the expanded access to lenalidomide. Previously, they had to access lenalidomide through Pharmac’s exceptional circumstances pathway, but this new decision allows their clinicians to prescribe the medicine directly, simplifying the process and improving access.

The newly funded treatment, pomalidomide (branded as Pomolide), will be available for people with multiple myeloma as a second or subsequent treatment option. This addition represents a significant step forward in providing comprehensive care for patients with this challenging condition.

During the consultation process, Pharmac received feedback from clinicians advocating for broader coverage under the new funding. Responding to this feedback, Pharmac approved funding for lenalidomide and pomalidomide for a wider group of people with plasma cell dyscrasias, not just those with multiple myeloma. Additionally, the renewal criteria for lenalidomide were removed based on this feedback, further simplifying access.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma Patient Joan Fent Praises Pharmac’s Decision for Expanding Treatment Options

Joan Fent, a multiple myeloma patient, expressed her approval of Pharmac’s decision. “This is an excellent step forward as it allows more people to benefit from treatment. It’s great for myself and my family that as well as lenalidomide, pomalidomide is being funded as a further line of treatment which gives me options when I relapse. I’m rapt that New Zealand can now get so many more medicines for our money.”

Geraldine MacGibbon also acknowledged the desire for funding additional treatments for multiple myeloma, such as daratumumab, and assured that Pharmac would continue to consider these options.

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Starting August 1, 2024, people with plasma cell dyscrasias who meet the eligibility criteria will have access to lenalidomide, individuals with myelodysplastic syndrome associated with a 5q deletion who have transfusion-dependent anemia will be able to access lenalidomide, and those with relapsed/refractory plasma cell dyscrasias will have access to pomalidomide with or without dexamethasone. People currently receiving lenalidomide (branded as Revlimid) will have six months to transition to the new funded brand (branded as Lenalidomide Viatris).

Lenalidomide is currently funded for people with multiple myeloma who meet certain eligibility criteria, with around 970 people receiving treatment each year. In August 2023, a competitive procurement process, known as a Request for Proposals (RFP), was issued for the supply of lenalidomide and pomalidomide. The aim was to achieve savings on lenalidomide to support its widened access and the new funding of pomalidomide for treating relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.

The broader access to these treatments signifies a considerable advancement in the management of multiple myeloma and other blood disorders in New Zealand. The expansion reflects Pharmac’s commitment to improving the quality of life for patients by making vital medications more accessible and affordable. The strategic approach in the procurement process not only ensures cost savings but also enhances the availability of essential treatments, enabling patients to receive comprehensive and timely care.

With these changes, patients with multiple myeloma and other related conditions can look forward to better management of their health, increased treatment options, and an overall improvement in their quality of life. The initiative underscores the importance of making effective treatments accessible to a broader patient population, ultimately contributing to better health outcomes for those affected by these serious conditions.


Resource: Pharmac, July 2, 2024

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