Thalidomide is used to treat multiple myeloma – a cancer of the bone marrow – and amyloidosis.
Currently, people taking thalidomide pick up their medicine from their hospital.
From 1 August 2017, they'll be able to pick it up from some community pharmacies, making it easier to access their medicine.
Thalidomide should not be taken during pregnancy as it can cause serious harm to an unborn baby. To make sure thalidomide is used safely it is only available under a risk-management distribution programme (i-access®), which is operated by Celgene (the supplier of thalidomide).
Pharmacies will need to register with the i-access® programme before they can distribute thalidomide.
Information for people taking thalidomide
This change means you'll be able to pick up your prescription from a pharmacy and not from the hospital, making it easier to access your thalidomide.
Which pharmacies can I go to?
Not all pharmacies will be able to dispense thalidomide. Your hospital pharmacy will be able to tell you the closest pharmacy.
You can also ring the supplier of thalidomide, Celgene, on 0800 526 529 to find out where your closest pharmacy is.
How much will it cost to pick up my medicine?
When you pick up a medicine from a pharmacy you pay a co-payment. This is normally $5 for 3 months’ supply of medicine.
I still have repeats at the hospital, where should I go to pick up my prescription?
Your hospital pharmacy will talk you through the best option to make sure you continue to get thalidomide. The options are:
- The hospital pharmacy may make a copy of your current prescription and give the original back to you. You can take the original prescription to the community pharmacy and pick up the rest of the prescription.
- The hospital pharmacy may arrange a new prescription which you will take to the community pharmacy.
If you have difficulty getting to a pharmacy, some hospitals may be able to continue to dispense your thalidomide.
Why is this change happening?
We want to make it easier for people to pick up their medicines. There are more community pharmacies than hospitals and most people will find it easier to get to a pharmacy to pick up their medicines.
If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information for community pharmacy
Registered community pharmacies can dispense thalidomide
Not all pharmacies will be able to dispense thalidomide. Only pharmacies registered with Celgene’s risk management programme, i-access®, and Celgene’s ordering portal will be able to dispense thalidomide.
To learn more about registering to dispense and order thalidomide contact Celgene on 0800 526 529 or visit www.iaccesscelgene.com(external link).
My pharmacy is currently registered to dispense lenalidomide. Will I be able to dispense thalidomide?
Yes, if you are registered with Celgene’s i-access® programme to dispense lenalidomide you will be able to dispense thalidomide without additional training.
How do pharmacies order stock of thalidomide?
Thalidomide can only be ordered through the Celgene Online Ordering Portal (COOP). Pharmacies can register with the portal on www.coop-global.com(external link) or call 0800 526 529.
How does our pharmacy process repeats that were initiated in hospital?
Some patients may choose to pick up their thalidomide from the community pharmacy part way through the prescription.
In this case, the hospital pharmacy will make a certified true copy of the prescription and give the original prescription back to the patient for it to be dispensed in community pharmacy. The usual co-payment will apply for the first community pharmacy dispensing in this situation.
Can patients use the same Special Authority number?
Yes, the Special Authority number will not change for existing patients. The only change will be the prefix: it will change from PCTX (which is used in hospitals) to CHEM (which is used in community).
The Ministry of Health Sector Operations will be working to make sure the Special Authorities work. If you have any issues/concerns about the Special Authority contact them on 0800 243 666 Option 1.
Information for DHB hospital pharmacy
From 1 August 2017, people taking thalidomide will be able to collect their medicine from community pharmacies that are registered with i-access® programme.
Will patients need a new Special Authority?
No, the Special Authority number will not change for existing patients. The only change will be the prefix: it will change from a PCTX (which is used in hospitals) to CHEM (which is used in community).
Ensure claims are submitted before 6 August 2017
The Ministry of Health Sector Operations (MoHSO) will change the prefix for all the existing thalidomide Special Authorities on 6 August 2017. This means from 6 August 2017 hospital pharmacies will not be able to claim for thalidomide as a PCT using the Special Authority.
Hospital pharmacies need to ensure they have submitted all their existing thalidomide claims up to 31 July 2017 before 6 August 2017.
If you have any issues/concerns about the Special Authority contact MoHSO on 0800 353 2425.
What about patients with existing repeats?
There are two options for processing patients with existing repeats:
- Make a certified true copy of the prescription and give the original prescription back to the patient, or
- Refer the patient to their relevant haematology team member to arrange a new 3-month prescription that can be dispensed by the community pharmacy.
For patients who have difficulty getting to a pharmacy you may consider using Access Exemption criteria to give the patient more than one month’s supply. (Safety concerns mean this option is not allowed for women of childbearing age.) If you have questions you can contact Celgene on 0800 526 529.
Which community pharmacies will patients be able to receive thalidomide from?
To find out which pharmacies patients can go to contact Celgene on 0800 526 529.
Last updated: 26 October 2017