Asthma Patients Get Another Fully Funded Treatment Option
New Zealand asthma patients will now have another fully funded treatment option thanks to
Pharmac reimbursing SINGULAIR (montelukast sodium) from 1 August 2012.
New Zealand has one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma in the world, second only to the
UK, with 15–20% of people being affected. In 2001; one in every 200 deaths was attributed to
From 1 August 2012, Pharmac will fully fund SINGULAIR under special authority criteria which
includes pre-school wheeze and patients being treated with maximal asthma therapy but still
experiencing frequent episodes of exercise induced asthma.
SINGULAIR belongs to a class of medications called leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs)
and is the first LTRA funded in New Zealand. LTRAs work by binding to and inhibiting specific
receptors within the airway which cause inflammation.
SINGULAIR is not an inhaler, but is instead, a once daily chewable tablet for children and an
easy to swallow tablet for adults, which can be taken with or without food.
Prof Rohan Ameratunga, at Auckland City Hospital, says, "This is great news for people with
asthma as there are many people whose asthma is not well controlled."
Dr Anthony Jordan, at Auckland City Hospital, adds, "The Patient Outcomes Management
Survey (POMS) found that the vast majority of New Zealand patients did not have well-
controlled asthma – 71% had asthma that was not well controlled and 19% were classified as
1 Holt S, Beasley R. The burden of asthma in New Zealand. Published by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand, 2002. SINGULAIR® is a registered trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. 2 Pharmac funding criteria http://www.pharmac.govt.nz/healthpros/PharmaceuticalSchedule/Schedule
having asthma that was markedly out of control. Despite this, 80% of patients were satisfied
with their level of asthma control and 76% thought that their asthma was well-controlled ."
SINGULAIR is made available in New Zealand by Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Ltd.
The New Zealand Director, Paul Smith, says, "SINGULAIR has been prescribed in over 110
million patients worldwide since 1998, and we are delighted that Pharmac has now agreed to
fund it and make it more accessible to New Zealanders.
"Unfortunately asthma rates in New Zealand are continuing to climb and hospitalisations have
more than doubled in the last thirty years; therefore access to new medications which help
asthmatics keep their asthma controlled is vital.”
For further information please contact:
Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited
Please note the Minimum Product Information is contained in the following pages:
SINGULAIR (montelukast) 4mg chewable tablets, 5mg chewable tablets, 10mg tablets. Prescription Only Medicine. Use:
SINGULAIR is for use in adults and children (2-15 yrs) for the prevention and chronic treatment of asthma, including the prevention
3 POMS Steering Committee. Asthma morbidity, control and treatment in New Zealand: results of the Patient Outcomes Management Survey (POMS), 2001. 4 Data on file, MSD .a3rd party analysis of IMS data including ages 6 months and older. IMS Midas Sales, IMS National Disease and Therapeutic Index (NDTI) and Thomson Reuters MedStat, IMS data accessed June 2011. All rights reserved.
5 Holt S, Beasley R. The burden of asthma in New Zealand. Published by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand, 2002.
of daytime and night-time symptoms and the prevention of exercise-induced bronchospasm (narrowing of airways), and for the relief
of daytime and night-time symptoms of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis. When not to use: SINGULAIR should not be taken
in patients who have a hypersensitivity reaction to any of the ingredients. Precautions: SINGULAIR should not be used to treat
acute asthma attacks. Inhaled or oral corticosteroids if appropriate should be reduced gradually. Common side effects: abdominal
pain, headache and thirst. SINGULAIR is fully funded – under special authority for those who meet specified criteria.
SINGULAIR may be taken with or without food. Interactions: N/A Based on datasheet prepared 20 April 2010. Supplied by: Merck
Sharp & Dohme (NZ) Limited, Newmarket, Auckland. For additional product information, consult the data sheet and/or Consumer
Medicine Information (CMI), available on request (phone 0800 500 673) or at the Medsafe website www.medsafe.govt.nz
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RESP-1049455-0000 First issued 31 July 2012 TAPS PP2629
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