Enbrel Becomes Available in New Zealand

A second biologic option is now available for patients in New Zealand with forms of arthritis.

A second biologic option is now available for patients in New Zealand with severe Psoriatic Arthritis (PA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).

PHARMAC recently announced that Enbrel will now be funded as a second option.

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

The organization known as Arthritis New Zealand has been lobbying for a second biologic option to be funded in the country for some time. Since no two biologics are the same, a second option may help patients who don’t respond to one of the two medications., the group said, in a press release.

The recent report “Access to innovative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis in New Zealand,” authored by 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. It also results in savings in health care cost and sick leave through reductions in hospital visits and lost work days.

The drugs will be funded as a “last line treatment,” only to be available through a referral from a Rheumatologist.

Natalia Valentino, Service Development Manager of Arthritis New Zealand, said she is pleased another line of medication 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.”