Pharmac reconsidering funding Keytruda


New Zealanders with advanced melanoma could get Keytruda after all.

Six months after turning down an application to fund the drug, Pharmac has today announced it is reconsidering the move.

In a statement Pharmac says it "has now reached a commercially favourable provisional agreement with Merck Sharpe and Dohme (New Zealand) Limited (MSD) for the supply of pembrolizumab (Keytruda)".

It is now seeking feedback on a proposal to fund pembrolizumab for patients with advanced melanoma.

The announcement comes just days before funding for rival drug Opdivo comes into force from July 1.

"All going well, we would hope that melanoma patients could be receiving Keytruda on a fully funded basis from September 1," says MSD New Zealand director Paul Smith.

"In the meantime, MSD is providing a bridging programme for current melanoma patients on Keytruda and for melanoma patients who would like to start Keytruda treatment. The programme provides melanoma patients with two months' supply of Keytruda paid for by MSD."

 It will mean melanoma patients currently using Keytruda will be able to maintain their current treatment regime rather than switching medicines. It will also allow other melanoma patients who wish to start Keytruda, to do so.