Pharmac considers more options for people with inflammatory bowel disease


Te Pātaka Whaioranga – Pharmac initiated consultation
today to fund ustekinumab (branded Stelara) for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and to expand access to infliximab (branded Remicade) for arthritis associated with IBD.

“Next budget increase, we go through our list of investment options,” says Sarah Fitt, chief executive of Pharmac. “As of July 1, 2022, we have funded 3 new treatments, expanded access to 14 and are currently reviewing consultation feedback on 11 proposals. We are happy to use this opportunity to advance funding for many more treatments.

Today’s consultation is based on a joint agreement with pharmaceutical supplier Janssen. If approved by Pharmac, ustekinumab would be funded starting February 1, 2023 for eligible people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who have no not responded to previous biological treatments, or whose treatment was not tolerated.

“We know that IBD has a significant and lifelong impact on people who have it and their whānau,” says Fitt. “In September, we consulted about vedolizumab, another drug to treat IBD. Our expert clinical advisors told us that funding both drugs would make a significant difference to the health needs of those affected, so we are happy to consider funding this additional option. If funding for ustekinumab is approved, an estimated 500 people with IBD would benefit in the first year, increasing to 1,500 people after a few years.

“As this tentative agreement was reached with supplier Janssen, the price of another drug, infliximab (brand name Remicade), has been reduced. We are also consulting on expanding access to infliximab, another treatment for the IBD community, to treat arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease and which would also be available from February 1, 2023.”

“We understand that New Zealanders have high expectations for rapid access to medicines, so we are delighted to be moving these consultations forward. It is important that we listen to those affected by our decisions and that we are open about the treatments we are considering. said Mrs. Fitt.

The consultation was sent to healthcare professionals, patient groups and others who Pharmac believes would be interested. It’s available on the Pharmac website for anyone who wants to speak up.

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