The New Zealand Crown health agency, Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC), has announced that funding four new medications tailored for the treatment of respiratory diseases, which may help more than 10,000 people in the country. The agency is responsible for deciding which products are subsidized in the community and public hospitals in New Zealand.
Starting at the beginning of the next month, glycopyrronium and indacaterol for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), omalizumab for severe allergic asthma, and an inhalation form of the antibiotic tobramycin for cystic fibrosis, will receive public funding. The decision aims to fill the unmeet need for therapeutic options for the respiratory conditions, according to PHARMAC’s director of operations, Sarah Fitt.
“For example, patients with the more severe forms of allergic asthma are often admitted to hospital for treatment,” explained Fitt. “Omalizumab is a new generation treatment for this form of asthma. It’s an injection that’s shown to be particularly effective in allergic asthma, and would likely help patients with the most severe forms better control their symptoms and avoid regular hospital treatment. About 180 patients over five years are likely to use omalizumab.”
Ms. Fitt also believes that further options will enable both patients and physicians to improve treatment outcomes. For COPD, for instance, there is currently only one drug funded, which is tiotropium. “Having two further funded treatments specifically registered for the treatment of COPD symptoms provides greater choice and the ability to tailor treatment to the patient,” Fitt added.
Approximately 10,000 patients in New Zealand will be able to benefit from the new COPD drugs over the next five years, according to PHARMAC forecasts. Fitt explained that since the inhalation type of tobramycin does not have preservatives, it is specially tailored for these kind of patients to inhalant, improving the therapeutic results. The new funding of the four drugs is included in a major multi-product agreement established with the pharmaceutical Novartis.
This new PHARMAC funding news follows a recent announcement covered on Multiple Sclerosis News Today that funding in New Zealand has been approved for two new treatments for multiple sclerosis, fingolimod (Gilenya)and natalizumab (Tysabri).