Drug funding change will save millions, says Pharmac

Government drug funder Pharmac says it will save $24 million over the next five years by changing its funding of a widely-used antipsychotic drug.

Seroquel, a brand of the antipsychotic drug quetiapine, is currently funded by Pharmac, but from October 1 that subsidy will be reduced.

Instead, a new brand of quetiapine made by Indian firm Dr Reddy's Laboratories would be introduced.

Pharmac medical director Peter Moodie said the new drug would be fully funded, alongside existing drug Quetapel.

"This decision will mean three brands will be funded, with at least two of them fully funded. In addition, there are a range of other funded products to treat psychoses and related mental illness."

About 34,000 New Zealanders take quetiapine every year, with Seroquel the most commonly used.

Dr Moodie said he expected any medication changes to go smoothly.

"The advice we have received is that a change in brands for patients taking quetiapine should be manageable. With more than one brand of quetiapine available, it's not uncommon for people to change brands of quetiapine even without changes in funding."

The expected savings would be put towards funding other medicines, Dr Moodie said.




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