NZSG IBD Medication Update

Posted Monday September 19, 2022

As most of you are no doubt aware, yesterday Pharmac released a proposal to fund vedolizumab. It is fantastic to have positive news after so many years.

What does this mean?

This means we expect vedolizumab to be funded, subject to favorable consultation (i.e. everyone doesn’t say we don’t want it).

Does this mean ustekinumab won’t be funded?

Ustekinumab is a separate proposal and will be consulted on separately, if agreement is reached with the supplier.

What happens next?

The special authority criteria can’t be significantly changed through the consultation process, as the cost of the proposal is related to the numbers of patients expected to be eligible for treatment. Widening access criteria significantly would require a separate proposal. Small changes could be made to the criteria as a result of consultation.

What is the NZSG IBD Medication Working Group up to?

We have engaged with Pharmac over the past few months and feel this has been positive. They know our patients have been underserved, and are aware that ustekinumab is our favoured therapy for Crohns.

We have taken on board some learnings from the rheumatology society with regards to advocacy and communication and are putting those strategies into play.

The Gastrointestinal subcommittee recently discussed a proposal for funding of upadacitinib which you can find here  and we have prepared a proposal from NZSG in support of this (first and second line for UC) which we plan to submit to Pharmac this week.

Pharmac have welcomed our suggestion that the special authority criteria for all IBD biologics are reviewed (to ensure consistency and look at some changes, which could include widening access criteria), and this is our next focus.

What can you do?

Please let Pharmac know that you welcome the vedo proposal but that it's not enough - there will still be unmet need (other medications, changes to the criteria). 

Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions. You can copy us into any feedback you send to Pharmac or let us know your thoughts separately.

You can contact us at 

Who are we ?!

The IBD Medication Working Group is an NZSG special interest group formed earlier in the year, following on from previous valuable work in this space by other members. The NZSG Executive is formalising a process for Special Interest groups whereby each group will be notified, have a terms of reference, an executive member attached for oversight, and provide regular updates on progress and actions. We needed to stand up quickly, so are currently an interim group until we complete the formal approval process. 


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