Greater access to innovative medicines could improve the quality of life for thousands of New Zealanders with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
There are six treatments available to patients in Australia, compared to the two funded in New Zealand. Because not all treatments are the same, choice is important when selecting the right therapy for an individual patient.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is one of the most severe chronic progressive diseases, reducing quality of life for patients and their families through significant disablement, inflammation and pain. In New Zealand, close to 20, 000 adults aged over 19 years are estimated to be affected by RA.
International research has shown that the physical impairment caused by RA limits the sufferer's ability to work and that early treatment with modern biologic medicines reduces sick leave, hospitalisation and surgery.
A recent study comparing access to biologic medicines for RA sufferers in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK shows that New Zealand has the poorest record for providing this type of innovative therapy.
"Nearly 13% of RA patients in Australia and the UK have access to biologic treatment, but only 3-4% of RA sufferers in New Zealanders have the same option," Medicines New Zealand Chief Executive Denise Wood says.
"The latest announcement to fund a second treatment option in New Zealand will be welcomed by patients, but comes eight years after the treatment was first made available. Once again patients in New Zealand are experiencing lower and slower access to innovative medicines in New Zealand."
Download a copy of the report at: http://www.medicinesnz.co.nz/assets/ACCESS-TO-INNOVATIVE-TREATMENTS-RA-FINAL.pdf
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