New Zealand to fund only biosimilar epoetin alfa

Home/Policies & Legislation | Posted 09/11/2018 post-comment0 Post your comment

New Zealand will stop funding the brand-name epoetin alfa biological Eprex and, in future, will only fund the biosimilar epoetin alfa Binocrit.

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New Zealand’s pharmaceutical management agency, PHARMAC, announced on 24 September 2018 that it had made an agreement with Novartis New Zealand for the supply of epoetin alfa.

The decision means that the funding for epoetin alfa in the country’s community and hospital medicines list will change from Janssen’s Eprex to Binocrit, supplied by Novartis. Binocrit will be listed from 1 February 2019 and will become the only funded brand of epoetin alfa after a 5-month transition period.

The funding change comes as a result of PHARMAC’s request for proposals from drugmakers to supply epoetin alfa, which the agency initiated in May 2018.

PHARMAC was established in 1993 to help rein in high drug costs for the nation’s public health system. It manages New Zealand’s schedule of government-subsidized pharmaceuticals, a list that comprises approximately 2,600 medicines used in public hospitals.

Binocrit was approved by New Zealand’s Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe) in February 2013 [1].

From 1 July 2019, all other brands of epoetin will be delisted from Section B of the Pharmaceutical Schedule and Binocrit will be the only funded brand of epoetin injections in the community until 30 June 2022.

This is not the first time PHARMAC has favoured a biosimilar over the brand-name alternative. Back in August 2012, the agency announced that it was awarding sole supply and widening funded access to filgrastim when it signed a deal with Sandoz for its filgrastim biosimilar Zarzio.

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Biosimilars approved in New Zealand []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2018 Nov 9]. Available from:

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