Pharmac has recently agreed with a pharmaceutical company called Roche to purchase the Ronapreve Covid-19 treatment. This new Covid-19 drug will help save lives and cut patient time spent in hospitals to help relieve the pressure on the New Zealand health system. The drug has already been approved in more than 20 countries. What will this new drug do exactly, and how do Pharmac funded drugs work?

What is Ronapreve, and what does it do?

Ronapreve is designed to stop Covid-19 from attaching to a receptor found on the surface of human cells in the respiratory tract. The virus binds to the receptor to get inside the cell, where it can replicate before infecting other cells. The effect of the treatment is to boost a person’s immunity, allowing their immune response to clear the virus so they can recover from the infection.

Is Ronapreve safe?

Ronapreve has gone through numerous trials around the world and has been tested by both hospitalised and not hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The drug will be given to those that are immune-compromised including those with certain cancers or autoimmune diseases who had difficulty building up an antibody response to Covid-19. The drug is yet to be approved in New Zealand, however, Medsafe has recently received an application for the drug and will evaluate its evidence. If Medsafe approves the drug Pharmac will possibly be funding it. “Getting vaccinated is the best defence against Covid-19. But we are pleased that we have secured an additional treatment to help those who become unwell,” said Pharmac’s Chief Executive Sarah Fitt.

How Pharmac funded Covid drugs works:

Pharmac funds 2 treatments for COVID-19, tocilizumab and remdesivir. They have also agreed to purchase molnupiravir and Ronapreve once they are Medsafe approved as mentioned above. Pharmac funded drugs are not always free and most of the time they are subsidised, which means they are a lot cheaper than if they were not funded by Pharmac.

Will being unvaccinated affect my insurance?

Unvaccinated people could face higher costs for life and health insurance is the future says Naomi Ballantyne​ the managing director of Partners Life. If someone is unvaccinated, they are exposing themselves to Covid risk, which insurers have not yet priced, or assumed in their underwriting. There are growing signs that unvaccinated people could face costs not faced by fully vaccinated people.

As the Covid-19 situation develops in New Zealand, keeping your insurance up to date and having regular reviews is important. If you would like to learn more about Pharmac and how funded drugs work in New Zealand, please don’t hesitate to contact us.