Two more medicines will be funded by taxpayers for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, following a decision by Government agency Pharmac.
Tecfidera capsules and Aubagio tablets will be state-funded from February 1 for MS patients who meet the complex clinical criteria.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand welcomes the decision to fund two new first-line treatments for relapsing-remitting forms of MS.
"There are approximately 4000 people with multiple sclerosis in New Zealand," says society spokesman Neil Woodhams. "This announcement is a really positive step forward for them."
The announcement follows Pharmac's funding of two other MS medicines, Tysabri and Gilenya, last year and its widening of access to older injectable treatments.
Mr Woodhams says the funding of the two new medicines in November last year is making a difference in patients' lives.
"We know from figures that Pharmac has provided that 471 people with MS have been approved to receive Tysabri or Gilenya within the first 12 months of funding. We hope that the impact of access to Tecfidera and Aubagio will be just as positive.
"We are still concerned the overall entry and exit criteria are too tight," says Mr Woodhams. "There needs to be some flexibility. New Zealand is the only country to have such stringent exit criteria under the Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS]."