Changes to the funding of adalimumab

From 1 March 2022 Pharmac has made changes to the funding of adalimumab. The main funded brand of adalimumab is now Amgevita. Most people will be moved from the Humira brand to Amgevita.

Adalimubab is a medicine used in the treatment of inflammation. It comes in different forms with different brand names – Humira and Amgevita.

From 1 March 2022, Amgevita will be the main funded brand in Aotearoa New Zealand. As a result, most people will be moved from the Humira brand to Amgevita.

On this page you can find the following information:

Tips to help you transition from Humira to Amgevita

 Tips to help you transition from Humira to Amgevita

Adjusting to a new medicine and getting used to it can be concerning at first. Here are a few tips to help you with the transition. 

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about changing from Humira to Amgevita.
  • Ensure the switch to Amgevita has been explained to you adequately and that you know who to contact if you have any questions.
  • Amgevita looks different to Humira. Ask your healthcare provider if you are unsure about how to use the Amgevita. See below: What support is available for changing to Amgevita?

What does this brand change mean for me?

If you are currently on Humira, the introduction of Amgevita from 1 March 2022 means your doctor will probably move you from the Humira brand to the Amgevita brand.

People can still use Humira if:  

  • They have Crohn’s disease that may worsen if their medicine is changed.
  • They have inflammation of the eye called uveitis.
  • They experience difficulty after trialling Amgevita.

Talk about these changes with your doctor, specialist, pharmacist or other health professional you trust, when you see them next. They can discuss what this change will mean for you.

Are there any differences between Humira and Amgevita?

Both Humira and Amgevita contain the ingredient adalimumab

Adalimumab is a biologic medicine used to treat a range of different conditions. Biologic medicines are a type of medicine that are made from living organisms, such as a yeast, bacteria or animal cell. Amgevita is a ‘biosimilar medicine’ which means that it is a similar version of an original biologic medicine.

  • Because biologic medicines are made from living organisms, they can vary naturally. This can result in small differences in the medicine, even between different batches of the same biologic.
  • These small differences do not affect the safety of the medicine or how effective it is. There are likely to be small differences between the original biologic and a biosimilar, similar to the small differences between different batches of the same biologic.

Humira and Amgevita are both approved by Medsafe

Medsafe is the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority. They approve medicines for use in New Zealand and evaluate all biosimilar medicines before they are funded in New Zealand.

  • To ensure a biosimilar works and is safe, Medsafe examines the information about the quality of the biosimilar, the evidence of how it was developed and how patients respond to it.
  • This ensures a biosimilar has no important differences from the reference biologic.
  • As Amgevita is Medsafe approved, it has gone through this review to check it is as effective and safe as Humira.

Although Amgevita is new to Aotearoa New Zealand, Amgevita is used in Australia, Canada, Europe and the UK safely and effectively.

Amgevita is a citrate-free formulation of adalimumab

Citrate is a chemical buffer that is included in some medicines to keep them stable. Some people find that the inclusion of citrate in medicines that are injected can cause ‘stinging’. As Amgevita is citrate-free, you may find Amgevita is less painful to inject.

What support is available for changing to Amgevita?

For support, and if you have any concerns or questions, speak to your GP, nurse or pharmacist. 

To enable the change to Amgevita, resources will be available when you are first dispensed Amgevita. You will receive:

  • A welcome pack with information about how to use Amgevita and a patient alert card. This information will also be provided electronically and in multiple languages.
  • Ongoing access to support from registered nurses via telephone and video calling to guide you through using the device and to answer any questions you might have about Amgevita.
  • A sharps bin for the safe disposal of used sharps. Amgen will ensure that replacement sharps bins are available when required.
  • Ongoing access to support and resources through the Amgevita website.

What is the timeline for the rollout of this change?

The change from the Humira to the Amgevita brand will take a few months.

Dates  What's happening
1 March 2022 until 30 September 2022 If you haven’t already, discuss your ongoing treatment plan and your transition to Amgevita with your prescriber. Both Amgevita and Humira will be available if you are using adalimumab. If you are prescribed adalimumab for the first time you will be started on Amgevita.
From 1 October 2022 All people receiving funded adalimumab treatment will have transitioned to Amgevita with help from their prescriber. If you qualify, your prescriber can apply for a Special Authority so you can return to, or remain on, Humira.

Did you know that you can report a side effect of a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

What do I do if my symptoms are worse after switching to Amgevita?

Contact your doctor if you have any problems after switching to Amgevita. Changes in symptoms could be due to the brand change or your condition. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and may switch you back to Humira. People can still use Humira if they experience difficulty after trialling Amgevita.

What do I do if there is a supply problem with Amgevita?

Very rarely medicines become out of stock due to manufacturing delays. If there is a supply issue with Amgevita, your pharmacist or doctor will advise you about what to do with your medicines supply. They won’t let you go without any medicine. 

Learn more

Adalimumab changes – what patients need to know Pharmac
Amgevita MedSafe, NZ

Credits: Health Navigator Pharmacists. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, MPharm PGDipClinPharm, Auckland Last reviewed: 16 May 2022