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Pharmac funds rare tuberculosis drug

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/05/2016

A drug to treat a rare form of tuberculosis has been given funding by Pharmac as the government drug-buying agency looks to tackle some rarer conditions.

Pharmac has now opted to pay for four medicines aimed at treating rare disorders out of a special $5 million fund for the purpose.

The latest is bedaquiline, which treats multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, a rare disease it says could have significant effects on public health if it became established.

The drugs were picked after a call for proposals using the Pharmac bidding process but limited for treatments for less common conditions.

"This new approach has enabled us to find new funding solutions for rare disorders medicines," chief executive Steffan Crausaz said.

"We've used our evidence-based approach to make decisions on the best value medicines from bids received, and at the same time maintained our ability to fund other medicines as well."

The other three funded drugs include icatibant, for rare blood disorder hereditary angioedema, galsulfase, for an enzyme deficiency disorder and siltuximab, which treats treats a rare form of immune system disorder called HHV-negative idiopathic multicentric Castlemans disease (iMCD).

The government this month announced a $39m increase in Pharmac's 2016 budget as part of a $124m hike over four years.

Pharmac says the money will allow it to look at seven new drugs including Opdivo, a treatment for advanced melanoma.

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