14 Feb 2013

Pharmac urged to reject costly drug

12:48 pm on 14 February 2013

A women's health group is urging the drug-buying agency Pharmac to refuse to fund an expensive new drug for a small number of patients.

Pharmac advisors are considering whether to recommend a drug for a rare blood disorder that costs $500,000 a year for each patient.

Drug-maker Alexion has applied to the agency to fund the medicine Soliris, or eculizumab, for eight patients with the disorder.

Alexion has given the drug to three of the patients and hired a communications firm to help publicise the patients' plight.

Auckland Women's Health Council spokesperson Lynda Williams says Soliris is obscenely over-priced and Pharmac should reject it.

She says the health service will have to make cuts elsewhere to fund it and other patients will miss out.

Ms Williams said the patients should be urging Alexion to lower the price.

Pharmac clinical advisory committee PTAC turned down the funding bid last year but also called for more information, which it will consider on Thursday and Friday.

It is understood the agency met with Alexion this week. The timing of a final decision is not known.