8 Feb 2009

No change expected when Pharmac considers new drug

7:32 am on 8 February 2009

Pharmac is to consider whether to make a more potent cholesterol medication available.

A clinical trial overseas has showed that taking a type of statin called Rosuvastatin could reduce the number of deaths from heart disease in people with low to normal cholesterol levels.

Rosuvastatin is a more powerful cholesterol-lowering drug than either of the two statins currently subsidised by the State drug buying agency.

Senior cardiologist Harvey White says New Zealanders are being disadvantaged by not having the drug on offer.

Pharmac's medical director, Peter Moodie says a clinical advisory committee will meet later this month to consider whether to make Rosuvastatin available, but he does not expect any change.

Dr Moodie says that Rosuvastatin is expensive and he would prefer to see more people using statins rather than making a bigger range of them available.

Some 315,000 people in New Zealand currently take a statin to lower their risk of heart disease.

More on this can be heard in Insight on Radio New Zealand National after 8am on Sunday.