PHARMAC has announced that it is freeing up access to a hormone treatment that is used for oral contraception and a
number of conditions including severe acne, polycystic ovary syndrome and abnormal hair growth.
Patients currently have to meet specific criteria to get this drug, cyproterone acetate with ethinyloestradiol, fully
funded or they pay a manufacturer’s surcharge.
Chief Executive Wayne McNee says due to a successful tender the Special Authority has been removed making the drug fully
funded for all patients. The tender for this drug was won by Douglas Pharmaceuticals and its brand Estelle 35 will be
fully funded from October 1 replacing the current brand Diane 35.
The move will save the taxpayer an estimated $1.4 million on this drug over the three year tender period.
Wayne McNee says it is good news that more women will be eligible for the fully funded drug as it can be a useful
treatment. However it is important for both prescribers and patients to remember that some data suggest it may carry
some of the same risks as third generation oral contraceptive pills.
He says that this is one of three successful results just announced in the latest tender round, which in total has freed
up another $12.5 million from the pharmaceutical budget.
Wayne McNee says the results are excellent, as any money saved from these tenders can then be redirected into other
“The three products in this tender round are widely used by patients and are all expensive products so it is good to be
able to make considerable savings on them. We have a limited budget and it is our job to make sure this money goes as
far as it possibly can to meet the health needs of New Zealanders. The savings made here can now be spent elsewhere.”
The biggest savings from the July tenders will be from a drop in the cost of a medicine used for the treatment of
hypertension and angina. The tender for felodipine has been awarded to Pacific Pharmaceuticals and it will reduce the
cost of the treatment to the taxpayer by more than $8 million over the next three years.
The tender for some strengths of another treatment for angina and hypertension, diltiazem hydrochloride, has been
awarded to Douglas Pharmaceuticals. It is estimated that this will save $2.2 million over the tender period.