Pharmac secures baricitinib, another medicine for treating Covid-19


Pharmac has secured a fifth medicine that can be used to treat people with Covid-19 symptoms.


Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt. Photo: RNZ / LUKE MCPAKE

Five hundred doses of baricitinib will arrive this month and join a suite of treatments available for patients who are sick.

Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt said “Clinical trials have shown baricitinib can help hospitalised Covid-19 patients, reducing severity of symptoms and time in hospital, and increasing survival”.

Baricitinib, an oral tablet, is not currently Medsafe approved for use in the treatment of Covid-19, Pharmac said.

However, clinicians will be able to use it straight way under the Medicines Act.

Minister of Health Andrew Little said vaccinations and public health measures were still the best protection for people and the health system.

However, health professionals still needed medicines for those who were sick, he said.

“Baricitinib is the fifth drug Pharmac has secured, and sits alongside remdesivir, tocilizumab, molnupiravir and Ronapreve as treatments doctors can turn to for people with a range of Covid-19 symptoms.

“Like tocilizumab, baricitinib can be used to treat patients who are very sick, as it reduces the severity of symptoms and cuts time in hospital and reduces the likelihood of death.

“Pharmac expects to receive 500 doses of baricitinib this month, which is important because there is a global shortage of tocilizumab and this gives clinicians another option.”

Money for all five medicines will come from the government’s Covid-19 fund.

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