10 May 2018
Thousands of New Zealanders will benefit from advances in treatment
Thousands of New Zealanders will benefit from advances in treatment as a result of two PHARMAC funding decisions. The
first decision is to fund a medication for treating a degenerative eye condition, and the second is to fund another oral
anticoagulant option for the prevention of strokes and the prevention or treatment of blood clots.
Aflibercept (Eylea), which is used to treat degenerative eye conditions, will be funded from 1 June 2018 and will be
available in both hospitals and the community.
“This is a new generation treatment that helps preserve and improve vision,” says PHARMAC Director of Operations, Lisa
“It increases treatment options for people with wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular oedema – both
of which are extremely common causes of blindness in New Zealand.”
Wet age-related macular degeneration is New Zealand’s most common cause of blindness, affecting one in seven people over
the age of 50. Diabetic macular oedema is a serious complication of type 1 and 2 diabetes and is the leading cause of
blindness in people aged 25–74.
“Aflibercept will provide more flexibility for patients and reduce the burden on DHB ophthalmology services as it
requires less frequent injections than the current treatments, and will be funded whether prescribed by private or
public ophthalmologists,” says Ms Williams.
“We expect this to have a positive impact on the wider health system, while providing a better treatment option for
Around 900 people are expected to benefit from this decision in the first year of funding.
The second funding decision will increase the number of patients able to access rivaroxaban (Xarelto), an anticoagulant
used for preventing strokes and for preventing or treating blood clots. Previously, it was only funded for short periods
following hip or knee replacement surgery.
“This decision, which takes effect from 1 August 2018, will remove restrictions on who can prescribe rivaroxaban along
with the conditions that it can be used to treat,” says Ms Williams.
“This means there will be additional treatment options for patients who aren’t able to tolerate currently funded oral
treatments such as warfarin and dabigatran. Rivaroxaban can usually be taken once a day , crushed for those unable to
swallow tablets, is able to be compliance packed by pharmacists and generally requires less monitoring compared to
Widening access to this medication could benefit up to 12,000 people in the first year of funding.”
More information is available in the notification on the PHARMAC website