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Pharmac funding hoped to improve access to HIV meds

Fri 6 May 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Pharmac has received $39 million to improve access to medications next year. Body Positive applauds the budget boost and says as New Zealand has fallen behind international standards in relation to the care of HIV, these funds provide an opportunity to provide people with modern choices in the treatment of HIV and allows the country to move towards a world class health system. “With this new injection of funds there is an opportunity for New Zealand to catch up with other countries such as Australia and provide world class health care to its citizens,” says Executive Director of Body Positive, Mark Fisher. The World Health Organisation released treatment guidelines in September that state 
“Anyone infected with HIV should begin antiretroviral treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible.” New Zealand still requires that people wait until their immune system has been irreparably damaged by having their CD4 count fall below 500 before they have access to therapy. Fisher says “On April 9th 2015 the US treatment guidelines were released which shifted first line therapy to integrase based combinations. Of the five primary regimens recommended only 2 are currently funded by Phrarmac. “Most people prefer the simplicity of regimens requiring one pill once daily for treatment of HIV and this leads to better adherence,” he says. “There are currently 6 one pill daily regimens available with 4 of these being approved for use in New Zealand but only one of them (Atripla) is currently funded. Atripla is 10 years old being introduced in the US in 2006. The new US guidelines downgrade Atripla from a recommended regimen to an alternative regimen for first line therapy based on its side effects that effect the central nervous system and that there are better alternatives with fewer side effects. “Unfortunately these alternatives aren’t funded in New Zealand which limits people’s options.” The increase in funding was confirmed by Prime Minister John Key and Health Minister Jonathan Coleman in a pre-budget announcement at Pharmac’s Wellington Offices today.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 6th May 2016 - 9:35am

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