Competition opens the way to new drug funding

  • 16/09/2015
Competition opens the way to new drug funding

Pharmac says its new rare disorders process - which promotes competition between drug companies - has resulted in funding for a drug that treats a potentially deadly blood disorder.

The Government drug buyer has done a deal with US company Shire Pharmaceuticals to supply injectable icatibant (brand name Firazyr), which treats hereditary angioedema attacks.

Hereditary angioedema causes episodic attacks of swelling that can be life-threatening.

Pharmac believes there may be up to 90 sufferers in New Zealand, and 25 of them may meet the criteria for funded treatment.

Pharmac has a $25 million budget for rare disorders and last year began testing a new approach to promote competition, says chief executive Steffan Crausaz.

It resulted in a number of companies Pharmac had never dealt with before, including Shire, offering 28 medicines.

"This is a great outcome for people with hereditary angioedema, and we're confident of more agreements being reached for other rare disorders in the near future," Mr Crausaz said.

Firazyr can be self-injected, which Pharmac says will save DHBs money on people visiting for in-hospital treatment.

In 2011 the Food and Drug Administration approved Firazyr for use in the United States and the Medical Letter noted a single dose cost US$2427 (NZ$3834).