ZB

Pharmac funds new cancer, asthma medication

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 16 Mar 2022, 12:52pm
The Government has secured new medicines from Pharmac. (Photo / 123rf)
The Government has secured new medicines from Pharmac. (Photo / 123rf)

Pharmac funds new cancer, asthma medication

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 16 Mar 2022, 12:52pm

Pharmac is now funding new medicines for people with lung cancer, ovarian cancer and severe asthma. 

The drug-buying agency has signed an agreement with AstraZeneca, which will give discounts on three medicines Pharmac already buys, as well as extend a medicine for ovarian cancer, which will mean more people can get it. 

Health Minister Andrew Little said the stage three lung-cancer treatment was "particularly significant" because it "offers people with lung cancer the potential to extend their lives more than what is possible now, especially when combined with what might come out of a multi-million dollar research programme about to get under way". 

Little said cancer research was important because it was "difficult for patients and doctors to recognise the symptoms for what they are, and getting access to scans or biopsies for a timely diagnosis may not be easy". 

He said lung cancer was "the biggest cause of cancer-related death in this country and often it isn't diagnosed until it's too late to treat it". 

Little said the medicines could be funded because the Government had increased Pharmac's budget to $1.1 billion. 

He also alluded to the forthcoming consolidation of the health sector saying pairing research and drug purchasing showed what was possible with a linked-up public service. 

"This is what a joined-up health service looks like – health agencies working together to identify problems and find and implement solutions," Little said. 

The medicines included in the agreement include durvalumab for lung cancer, and benralizumab for severe eosinophilic asthma. 

The agreement will also widen access to olaparib, a first-line treatment for some types of ovarian cancer and offer discounts on budesonide - the Symbiocort Tubuhaler for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - fulvestrant, which treats a type of breast cancer, and gefitinib (for treating a type of cancer called epidermal growth factor receptor).