Cancer and immunosuppressants
(including monoclonal antibodies)
- Abiraterone – newly funded treatment for an advanced form of prostate cancer
- Lenalidomide – access to newly funded treatment for multiple myeloma
- Etanercept and adalimumab – widened funded access to include treatment of Pyoderma gangrenosum and adult onset Still’s disease
- Everolimus – newly funded treatment for patients with subependymal giant cell astrocytomas (a form of brain tumour)
- Azacitidine – a newly funded treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes (a group of blood disorders)
- Nilotinib – a newly funded treatment for chronic myeloid leukaemia
- Completed the brand change for the immunosuppressant tacrolimus
Prostate cancer treatments
PHARMAC funded abiraterone, a new treatment for a type of prostate cancer from 1 May 2015, potentially benefiting up to 1000 men annually.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly-diagnosed form of cancer among New Zealand men. Funding for abiraterone is for men with the advanced form of prostate cancer called metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Abiraterone is a tablet, which means men with this form of prostate cancer don’t need to go to hospital to receive their treatment. Men can receive funded abiraterone tablets either before or after chemotherapy
Clinical trials show abiraterone significantly improves the quality of life for men with advanced prostate cancer and extends life by around five months.
Abiraterone is a significant new investment for PHARMAC; however, PHARMAC negotiated a reduced price through confidential rebates with the supplier, Janssen, and also negotiated savings on other Janssen products for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy as part of a multi-product agreement.
Access to bicalutamide, another prostate cancer treatment was also widened from 1 October 2014.
From 1 November 2014, PHARMAC funded everolimus, a new treatment for a form of brain tumour associated with tuberous sclerosis complex, called a sub-ependymal giant cell astrocytoma (SEGA). These tumours mainly affect children.
To date surgery has been the only way to reduce the size and growth rate of these tumours. Funding everolimus adds a non-invasive treatment option for these patients. While everolimus is aimed at treating a small patient population, it is an important option for them. PHARMAC estimates up to 11 people might benefit from this treatment over five years.
A new treatment, lenalidomide, became funded from 1 September 2014, for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. It is an alternative to the currently funded treatments bortezomib and thalidomide, and funded for use in patients if these treatments fail.
The trials show that lenalidomide is effective in patients whose disease has progressed after receiving previous treatments. It also doesn’t have some of the side effects of the other funded treatments, which can be debilitating for patients. The funding of lenalidomide will provide an additional treatment for haematologists to use and should lead to patients living longer.
Last updated: 10 December 2015