18 June 2010 Media release Open access follows price reduction for cholesterol drug A 90% price reduction is enabling Government drug funder, PHARMAC, to provide open access to the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin. Statins are used by nearly 400,000 New Zealanders to help manage their cholesterol levels. They are important medicines to help lower the risk for heart attacks and other vascular diseases. Another statin called simvastatin has had open access in New Zealand since 2002. This means that any clinician can prescribe it for patients, taking into account the New Zealand Cardiovascular Guidelines. The restrictions that currently apply to atorvastatin will be removed from 1 September 2010, following the end of patent protection for the Lipitor brand. PHARMAC Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says about 60,000 New Zealanders already take atorvastatin to control their cholesterol, and this is likely to grow with the widening of access. “While the price was high, it was appropriate for us to target access of atorvastatin to people with the highest need,” says Dr Moodie. “Now that the price has reduced to almost the same level as simvastatin, we expect more people to take this medicine, and some of these will have a lower cardiovascular risk profile than people currently taking atorvastatin.” Statins remain the international mainstay in the battle against cholesterol and cardiovascular risk, following ongoing clinical trials demonstrating their effectiveness. Dr Moodie says that he expects New Zealand doctors will continue to follow clinical guidelines for prescribing statins, and patients who have achieved recommended targets on simvastatin will continue on that medicine. The widening of access is the result of competition emerging in the market for atorvastatin. New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to see the patent on Lipitor expire. Internationally, Lipitor earned nearly $US12 billion in the past financial year, making it the highest-value drug in the world and the leader in the `blockbuster’ class of medicines. With the Lipitor patent expiring, several companies offered generic versions and after reviewing several proposals, PHARMAC awarded sole supply status to Mylan’s brand of atorvastatin (Lorstat) for the next three years.
The price reduction – one of the largest in percentage terms obtained by PHARMAC – will produce savings in the region of $20 million per year. “These are significant savings that we will be able to use to purchase new medicines and fund the ongoing growth in prescribing that we typically see,” says Dr Moodie. The new brand has been approved for use by Medsafe and contains the same amount of active ingredient as Lipitor. Lorstat will be funded from 1 August 2010, and the subsidy on Lipitor will be reduced from 1 September 2010. Lorstat will become the sole funded brand from 1 December 2010. ENDS
18 June 2010 Media release Open access follows price reduction for cholesterol drug A 90% price reduction is enabling Government drug funder, PHARMAC, to provide open access to the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin. Statins are used by nearly 400,000 New Zealanders…
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