More Treatment Options Proposed For People With Multiple Myeloma And Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024 01:16 PM
Pharmac – Te Pātaka Whaioranga is proposing to fund more treatments for people with a type of blood cancer, multiple myeloma, and some people with a blood cell disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome.
The funding would benefit over 800 New Zealanders and improve their quality of life.
“The funding proposal would widen access to lenalidomide through a brand change and fund a new treatment, pomalidomide. Both treatments work to prevent the progression of disease and are taken as capsules in combination with other therapies,” says Pharmac’s Director Advice and Assessment/Chief Medical Officer, Dr David Hughes.
Pharmac is seeking feedback on the proposal that could result in:A brand change for lenalidomide to a generic version (branded as Lenalidomide Viatris) which would enable widened access to lenalidomide for people with multiple myeloma and for people with myelodysplastic syndrome who meet eligibility criteria from 1 August 2024.A new listing for pomalidomide (branded as Pomolide) for people with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, available from 1 August 2024. “We want to hear from the community, and clinicians supporting people with these conditions, about what they think of what we’re proposing.”
Myeloma New Zealand Trustee Nichola Oakenfull says, "We are delighted that pomalidomide could be funded and access could be widened to lenalidomide - having access to these medicines is desperately needed. We encourage all New Zealanders impacted by myeloma to consider providing feedback to Pharmac on this consultation.”
For people currently using the Revlimid brand of lenalidomide there would be a six-month transition period to support the proposed brand change. Revlimid would be delisted from the Pharmaceutical Schedule on 31 January 2025.
It’s expected most people would be able to change to the proposed new brand of lenalidomide. However, if people experienced a severe adverse reaction to the new generic brand their prescriber would be able to apply for them to access Revlimid through Pharmac’s exceptional circumstances processes.
Pharmac released a competitive procurement process in August 2023 asking suppliers to submit proposals for the supply of pomalidomide and lenalidomide in New Zealand.
“Using a competitive procurement process helps us to stretch New Zealand’s medicine budget further and means we can fund more medicines for more New Zealanders,” says Hughes.
“We understand there are other treatments the multiple myeloma community would like to see funded, such as daratumumab and carfilzomib. These are medicines we too would like to fund and we continue to talk to the suppliers about these applications.”
Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand Chief Executive, Tim Edmonds welcomes the proposal to expand access to generic lenalidomide and pomalidomide. “This could bring New Zealanders one step closer to the established standard of care and could enable New Zealand haematologists to practice in closer alignment with internationally recognised clinical treatment pathways. It is important to recognise that there remains an urgent unmet need for myeloma patients, and we hope to see progress for the funding of other treatments like daratumumab and carfilzomib."
Pharmac wants to hear from the community and the health care sector about this proposal and, if approved, what support would be needed to ensure the treatments reach the right people.
Feedback on this will help Pharmac decide how to proceed with this proposal. Consultation closes 4pm Friday 17 May and feedback can be emailed to
Proposal to increase access to lenalidomide and pomalidomide through a brand change for lenalidomideLearn more
Indications we’re considering treatments for in this proposal
Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell. When these cells become cancerous and grow out of control, they crowd out the healthy blood cells. This can cause anaemia and lower a person’s immunity.
Myelodysplastic syndrome is a condition where abnormal bone marrow cells grow rapidly – this affects the number of healthy blood cells in the blood stream and can increase the risk of anaemia.
Other medicines we’re assessing for treating multiple myeloma
Pharmac is considering three funding applications for carfilzomib to treat multiple myeloma. Two of have been assessed and subsequently ranked on our options for investment (OFI) list and the other is currently under assessment.
Pharmac is considering a number of funding applications for daratumumab for the treatment of multiple myeloma. There are three applications that we have assessed and subsequently ranked on our OFI list and one other is currently under assessment.
We acknowledge the health benefit of treatment with daratumumab and have incorporated it into our assessment. This is reflected in the Technology Assessment Report (TAR), which informs our prioritisation process. This was shared with the multiple myeloma consumer groups in July 2023, and is available on our website.
About the OFI list and progressing funding proposals
We keep the relative rankings on the OFI list confidential for commercial reasons so we can negotiate the best prices for medicines to enable more New Zealanders to access the medicines they need.
We are engaging with the suppliers of carfilzomib and daratumumab to discuss commercial proposals and to give them updates on the progress of amended commercial proposals.
The priority of funding choices changes, depending on the relative health benefits, the amount of funding available, success of negotiations with suppliers, new clinical data, and the variety of other funding applications. Because of this, Pharmac is unable to say if, or when, a decision to fund carfilzomib or daratumumab might be made.

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