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Moves to protect availability of haemophilia treatments

In changes to take effect from 1 September, PHARMAC is moving to have a preferred brand of recombinant Factor VIII, while also maintaining full funding for the other three currently-funded haemophilia products.

Recombinant blood factors are essential treatments for patients with haemophilia.

The changes to haemophilia treatments funding mean that all funded brands now require minimum levels of stock holding and supply, protecting the availability of haemophilia treatments.

There are about 600 people in New Zealand with haemophilia. About 230 of them use Factor VIII each year and around half of these people may be required to participate in a clinician-managed brand change.

Under the changes, Xyntha will become the preferred brand of Factor VIII. For patients who can’t receive Xyntha for clinical reasons, two other brands will be available through application to a Haemophilia Treatments Panel that PHARMAC will establish and co-ordinate.

Director of Operations Sarah Fitt says PHARMAC has looked at the experiences of other countries where similar changes have been safely made.

“Similar changes have been successfully introduced in other countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, without compromising the quality and safety of treatment,” says Sarah Fitt.

“There are a number of Factor VIII brands now available worldwide and a growing body of evidence and experience that supports the safety of national brand changes.”

Before making its decision, PHARMAC sought advice from specialist haemophilia treaters and the Haemophilia Foundation. This has helped PHARMAC understand the concerns of both health professionals and patientswith haemophilia.

PHARMAC will support health professionals and patients, and work closely with haemophilia treaters and the Foundation throughout the implementation process, Sarah Fitt says.

PHARMAC has been aware of the need to manage the affordability and sustainability of haemophilia treatments into the future.

“Every year, approximately $25 million is spent on these treatments in New Zealand, including $18 million for Factor VIII. It is pleasing that as well as providing greater certainty, we are also making savings on the currently funded products.”

“While the exact savings here are subject to confidentiality, other countries using similar competitive processes have saved as much as 50 percent.”

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