7 Dec 2012

Drug funding restrictions lifted

3:58 pm on 7 December 2012

Pharmac has lifted funding restrictions from seven cancer treatments and a diabetes medicine.

The State drug buying agency said the drugs are now fully funded by district health boards and can be prescribed by specialists without applying for authority.

Medical director Dr Peter Moodie said doctors will have greater discretion in how they choose to treat patients and more people are likely to be prescribed the drugs.

He said removing the restrictions will reduce the number of applications to prescribe restricted medicines by about four thousand each year.

Dr Moodie said hospital resources will be freed up and cancer treatment waiting times reduced.

The drugs are:

Anagrelide hydrochloride - primarily used to treat thrombothycaemia (overproduction of platelets)

Gemcitabine hydrochloride - used to treat a variety of cancers including bladder, breast, pancreas, lymphoma, lung and ovarian cancer

Irinotecan - primarily used to treat bowel and pancreatic cancer.

Oxaliplatin - primarily used to treat bowel, pancreas and stomach cancer

Vinorelbine - primarily used to treat lymphoma, lung and breast cancer

Capecitabine - primarily used to treat breast, bowel and stomach cancer

Octreotide - primarily used in cancer for endocrine tumours and for palliation of symptoms in patients with malignant bowel obstruction.

Pioglitazone - used to treat type two diabetes.