20 Sep 2010

Pharmac announces greater access to heart drugs

12:57 pm on 20 September 2010

The Government's drug-funding agency Pharmac is increasing the availability of two drugs used to lower patients' risk of heart attack and stroke.

The agency says atorvastatin has previously only been available for people who have not been able to lower their cholesterol levels using other, less potent, drugs in the statin family.

Pharmac says a price drop on the part of the manufacturer means the medicine can now be used earlier in a patient's treatment.

Medical director Peter Moodie says falling prices have also allowed it to make the non-statin ezetimibe more widely available.

Dr Moodie says Pharmac estimates about 18,000 people will be using ezetimibe within three years.