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Arthritis Sufferers Finally Granted Second Treatment Option

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Arthritis Sufferers Finally Granted Second Treatment Option

Arthritis New Zealand welcomes PHARMAC's announcement that a second biologic option for patients in New Zealand with severe Psoriatic Arthritis (PA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) will be funded.

Enbrel is the commercial name for a TNF inhibitor known as Etanercept. Until now, only one biologic was funded in New Zealand, Humira. There are currently six biologics funded in Australia.

Arthritis New Zealand have been lobbying for a second biologic option to be funded in New Zealand for some time as no two biologics are the same and patients who don't respond to one medication may respond to another.

The recently released report 'Access to innovative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis in New Zealand', authored by a leading international Health Economics Professor, Gisela Kobelt states that data emerging from treatment registries in Sweden, Denmark and Scotland, show that earlier treatment with biologics provides substantial improvement in patients quality of life, as well as savings in health care cost and sick leave through reductions in hospital visits and lost work days.

The criteria for funding of these drugs are that they will be a "last line treatment". This means that the drug is only available with a referral from a Rheumatologist.

Natalia Valentino, Service Development Manager of Arthritis New Zealand is pleased another line of treatment will be available for those who live with severe forms of arthritis: "This is fantastic and will make a real difference to those patients who need it the most."

"Biologics have been available in Europe for seven years and it is disappointing that New Zealand is slow on providing access to proven innovative drugs. We are so pleased that after advocating for so long that those who are severely impacted by arthritis will have a second line of medication option available. Today is another triumph for arthritis sufferers."

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