Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Pharmaceutical Funding Proposal to Benefit Over 6,000 People if Approved

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Pharmaceutical advancements are at the heart of the recent proposal, which includes treatments for schizophrenia, low iron levels, constipation, and a specific type of psoriasis, promising expanded access to essential medications. Alexandra Compton, Pharmac’s Senior Therapeutic Group Manager, expressed optimism about the proposal’s potential to benefit a broader population by making more pharmaceuticals available to more people.

The proposal suggests expanding access to the following pharmaceuticals: Aripiprazole depot (long-acting) injection for individuals with schizophrenia, Ferric carboxymaltose for iron deficiency anaemia in patients with chronic inflammatory disease, Methylnaltrexone bromide for those with opioid-induced constipation, and biologic treatments (adalimumab, etanercept, secukinumab, and infliximab) for patients with severe psoriasis.

Pharmaceutical Funding Proposal Open for Consultation

Pharmac’s consultation period for this funding proposal is currently open and will close on Tuesday, 30 July. Feedback will be reviewed before a final decision is made. If approved, these medicines are expected to be available from Friday, 1 November.

In June 2024, the Government allocated additional funding to Pharmac to introduce new pharmaceuticals and expand access to already funded ones, covering both cancer and non-cancer conditions. The initiative is projected to benefit over 6,000 people in the first year, with an increase to over 8,200 beneficiaries within five years.

The proposal aims to expand access to Aripiprazole Depot Injection, which is currently funded for a limited group of people with schizophrenia. This expansion targets those at high risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The Mental Health Subcommittee of PTAC has given this application a medium priority.


Pharmaceutical Access Expansion Proposal for Ferric Carboxymaltose and Methylnaltrexone Bromide

For Ferric Carboxymaltose Injection, already funded for a small group of individuals with iron deficiency anaemia, the proposal seeks to broaden access to include those with chronic inflammatory disease. The Haematology Advisory Committee has recommended this application with high priority. Similarly, Methylnaltrexone Bromide Subcutaneous Injection, currently available for patients in palliative care with opioid-induced constipation, aims to extend access to hospitalized patients experiencing the same condition. The Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) recommended funding this application in hospitals with a low priority.

Funded Intravenous and Subcutaneous Biologics are already provided for several conditions, including severe chronic whole body plaque psoriasis and psoriasis affecting the face, hands, or feet. The proposal suggests expanding coverage to include flexural psoriasis and genital psoriasis. The Dermatology Advisory Committee recommended the expansion of adalimumab access with a high priority and advised considering all biologics funded for psoriasis.

Aripiprazole Depot Injection is a long-acting injection used to manage and treat schizophrenia, administered monthly by healthcare professionals. It helps correct the chemical imbalance in the brain associated with schizophrenia and can reduce the likelihood of symptoms recurring. Compared to other atypical antipsychotic depot injections, aripiprazole depot has a relatively mild side effect profile, particularly regarding metabolic side effects. Ferric Carboxymaltose Injection provides a rapid infusion of up to 1,000 mg of iron over 15 minutes and is effective for individuals who cannot use oral iron preparations. It can be administered in non-hospital settings and quickly reverses iron deficiency.

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Methylnaltrexone Bromide Subcutaneous Injection treats opioid-induced constipation by blocking the constipating effects of opioids without hindering their pain-relieving properties. Biologics are pharmaceuticals derived from biotechnology using yeast, plant, bacterial, or animal cells and are used to treat various conditions, including plaque psoriasis.

The proposal by Pharmac aims to significantly improve access to crucial pharmaceuticals for several serious health conditions. By expanding access to these treatments, Pharmac anticipates a substantial positive impact on the lives of thousands of people. The consultation process remains open, inviting feedback to ensure the funding criteria are appropriately set to maximize benefits. If approved, the new and expanded treatments will be available from 1 November, providing hope and improved health outcomes for many patients.


Resource: Pharmac, July 10, 2024

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