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More Access To Blood-Thinning Drug For Heart Patients

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
More Access To Blood-Thinning Drug For Heart Patients

More access for heart patients to the blood-thinning drug clopidogrel is to be available from next month, following a major price reduction negotiated by the Government's drug-buying agency Pharmac.

Clopidogrel thins the blood, and is an important treatment for people who have had, or are at risk of, heart attack and stroke. It is currently funded for people with acute coronary syndrome, those who have had stents inserted to open blocked arteries and for people who are allergic to aspirin.

Following a big price reduction through a Pharmac tender, and the injection of new pharmaceutical funding from the Government, special authority restrictions are being lifted from clopidogrel, meaning it can be prescribed for any patient for whom doctors consider it appropriate.

Originally funded at a cost of $168 for a month's treatment, clopidogrel will now cost patients just $5.05 a month - a reduction of more than 95 percent.

Pharmac medical director Peter Moodie said access widening would be welcomed by cardiologists and GPs.

"This is another useful tool for managing people who have had cardiac problems," said Dr Moodie.

"Blood-thinning drugs are important for enabling people to return to their lives after heart surgery, and clopidogrel is a useful option to have available. Making it more widely available gives clinicians more choice and will potentially benefit a larger group of patients."

Three brands of clopidogrel are currently funded - Apo-clopidogrel, Arrow-clopidogrel, and Plavix -- however after November 1, only the Apo-clopidogrel brand will be funded.

Pharmac predicts the number of people taking clopidogrel will double to around 50,000 within three years. Even with the price reduction, widening access is expected to require nearly $6 million of additional spending over the next five years.

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