Pharmac funds drug for rare disorder

Jim Faed
Jim Faed
A ''small but important'' patient group will benefit from Pharmac's decision to fund a new drug to treat a rare blood disorder, University of Otago haematologist Dr Jim Faed says.

Pharmac announced at the weekend it would fund Revolade for people with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

ITP sufferers have low numbers of the blood platelets that help with clotting. Pharmac director of operations Sarah Fitt said the drug, also known as eltrombopag, was for people who had tried other treatments, including spleen removal.

Dr Faed told the Otago Daily Times patients who had had a splenectomy and still had problems were faced with taking drugs with unpleasant side effects. Revolade had fewer unpleasant side effects than the older drugs.

''It will be valuable for a small but important group of patients and help them to live a more normal life,'' Dr Faed said.

Pharmac estimated about 40 patients would receive Revolade per year at a cost, before ''confidential rebates'', of $36,000 each per year, making it one of the more expensive treatments on the pharmaceutical schedule.

''While other treatments are currently available, our clinical advisory committee considered there was a greater evidence of benefit through using eltrombopag.

''When we look at this clinical impact, the improvement to patients' quality of life and long-term health outcomes, as well as a reduction in hospital admissions and its affordability, this makes a compelling case for funding eltrombopag,'' Ms Fitt said.