Pharmac has today announced it will fund three new medicines targeting three different cancers.

The company has reached a deal with pharmaceutical companies for the drugs which target ovarian cancer, breast cancer and leukaemia.

Pharmac board chairman Steve Maharey said it was also proposing to make two long acting contraceptives available to more people and that the meningococcal ACWY vaccine (Menactra) be free for people in close living situations such as university hostels and army barracks.

It was also looking at a deal for two drugs targeting a specific type of advanced breast cancer.


However, before they can hit the shelves it will consult with those in the industry for their feedback. If it is positive, they could be available by November.

Maharey said the increase comes about from a $60 million boost from the Government which meant it could now "make real inroads into funding medicines on our priority list".

Consultation went out today on proposals to fund cancer medicines olaparib (Lynparza) for ovarian cancer, fulvestrant (Faslodex) for breast cancer and venetoclax (Venclexta) for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, he said.

Nearly 60,000 New Zealanders could benefit from the medicines in the first year.

If the feedback from the consultation was positive, patients could be prescribed some of the medicines from November this year.

Jaydess is only used for contraception, whereas Mirena is used for contraception as well as other issues including the management of heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis* (*unapproved indication) and endometrial hyperplasia without atypia.

Maharey said Pharmac was also looking to get the best deal for New Zealanders for a medicine for a particular type of advanced breast cancer.

"There are two registered medicines in New Zealand that clinical experts believe would be suitable.


"One of these is palbociclib (Ibrance) and the other is ribociclib (Kisqali). Pharmac has issued a request for proposals and one of these medicines could be available from April next year.

"This extra funding has taken the annual medicines budget to over $1 billion. We are working our way down our medicine priority list. These new medicines are just the beginning – more is on the way."