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'Miracle drug' Trikafta becomes publicly available in NZ today

Author
Megan Wilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 1 Apr 2023, 4:40PM
(Photo / Andrew Warner/File)
(Photo / Andrew Warner/File)

'Miracle drug' Trikafta becomes publicly available in NZ today

Author
Megan Wilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 1 Apr 2023, 4:40PM

A life-extending drug for people living with cystic fibrosis today becomes publicly funded and available in New Zealand.

Cystic fibrosis is an ultimately terminal condition that produces thick and sticky mucus and mainly affects a person’s lungs and digestive system.

Trikafta treats its underlying cause but at $330,000 per year, the drug has been out of reach for many families as it has previously not been publicly funded in New Zealand.

It has been described as a “miracle drug” by cystic fibrosis sufferers and their families.

In December, Pharmac announced funding for Trikafta was proposed to start on April 1.

In March, Pharmac confirmed the funding of Trikafta for people with cystic fibrosis, aged 6 and above, who met certain eligibility criteria.

Pharmac said it expected about 370 people to be eligible for funded access to Trikafta.

In a media release on March 7, Pharmac director of operations Lisa Williams said the government drug-buying agency was “thrilled” to announce Trikafta would be funded and available from this month.

“We initially received the application from Vertex in July 2021. This decision is a significant milestone. To have a medicine with this level of investment secured for our community is a big deal and we are grateful to everyone who has been a part of this process.”

Williams said there was a lot of feedback in response to consultation on the proposal to fund Trikafta in December.

“The feedback we heard, both during consultation and throughout our assessment process, has been key in aiding our understanding of the impact of cystic fibrosis on people, their whānau and communities, and on the health and disability system.”

Williams acknowledged those who had shared their personal stories and the time people had put into advocating for those living with cystic fibrosis.

“We have heard them all, and we know there will be a lot of people relieved to hear that we are funding Trikafta.”

Trikafta will be listed on the pharmaceutical schedule from today, subject to eligibility criteria.

According to the Pharmac website, prescribers will need to apply for a special authority on behalf of people diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Prescribers will need to confirm the person meets six certain access criteria, including the patient having either two cystic fibrosis-causing mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator gene or a sweat chloride value of at least 60 millimoles per litre.

Once an application has been approved, patients can go to any Te Whatu Ora inpatient hospital pharmacy to collect Trikafta.

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