Drug prices ne­go­ti­ated down­ward

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HOU LIQIANG houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The prices of 36 ex­pen­sive drugs — half of them for cancer treat­ment — are now cov­ered by med­i­cal insurance, after the au­thor­i­ties ne­go­ti­ated sub­stan­tial price re­duc­tions.

The Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity ne­go­ti­ated with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers on 44 drugs and man­aged to cut prices of 36 of them to be ac­cept­able for cov­er­age by the med­i­cal insurance fund, Xu Yan­jun, a fund man­age­ment of­fi­cial at the min­istry, said at a news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

Compared with re­tail prices last year, prices of th­ese drugs have de­creased by 44 per­cent on av­er­age, he said. Five of the drugs are tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicines and 22 are im­ported Western medicines.

Half the drugs, in­clud­ing 15 Western ones, are used to treat six types of cancer, in­clud­ing breast, lung and liver cancer. For ex­am­ple, the price of 440-mil­li­liter trastuzumab, which is used to treat breast cancer, went down by 69 per­cent to 7,600 yuan ($1,125), said Yan Qinghui, the min­istry’s deputy di­rec­tor of med­i­cal insurance.

He said the gov­ern­ment chose the 44 drugs for ne­go­ti­a­tion after it found the med­i­cal fund couldn’t af­ford them, even though they are greatly needed by the pub­lic due to their cu­ra­tive ef­fects. They may be patented or pro­duced ex­clu­sively by cer­tain phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

“We hoped we could make full use of the ad­van­tages of the fund’s group pur­chas­ing to in­clude more drugs in the med­i­cal insurance di­rec­tory,” Yan said.

Prices of the drugs may be ad­justed fur­ther when the con­tracts be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the man­u­fac­tur­ers ex­pire at the end of 2019, but they will also be sub­ject to change if new medicines cause changes in ex­clu­siv­ity, he said.

Xu said two in­de­pen­dent teams com­pris­ing ex­perts with clin­i­cal, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, eco­nomic and med­i­cal insurance ex­per­tise eval­u­ated the medicines, along with the med­i­cal insurance fund’s ca­pac­ity, be­fore prices were set.

He added that the whole ne­go­ti­a­tion process, which took place on June 16, was video­taped for su­per­vi­sion checks.

Chen Wen, deputy di­rec­tor of Fu­dan Univer­sity’s In­sti­tute of Hospi­tal Man­age­ment Re­search in Shang­hai, said, “It’s a great in­no­va­tion to bring a ne­go­ti­a­tion mech­a­nism to the re­vi­sion of the med­i­cal insurance di­rec­tory this year.

“It’s be­yond doubt that price ne­go­ti­a­tions will play a big­ger role in med­i­cal insurance.”

The min­istry’s ne­go­ti­a­tions for the 44 drugs laid a good foun­da­tion for the es­tab­lish­ment of a more reg­u­lated and com­plete ne­go­ti­a­tion mech­a­nism, he added.

It’s a great in­no­va­tion to bring a ne­go­ti­a­tion mech­a­nism to the re­vi­sion of the med­i­cal insurance di­rec­tory.” Chen Wen, deputy di­rec­tor of Fu­dan Univer­sity’s In­sti­tute of Hospi­tal Man­age­ment Re­search

CUI XIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Stu­dents of Chi­nese de­scent from more than 10 coun­tries visit the Me­mo­rial Hall of the Victims in Nan­jing Mas­sacre by Ja­panese In­vaders in Jiangsu province on Wed­nes­day. At least 300,000 Chi­nese peo­ple were killed in six weeks after Ja­panese sol­diers oc­cu­pied Nan­jing on Dec 13, 1937. About 900 stu­dents and their teach­ers are at­tend­ing a sum­mer camp to learn more about Chi­nese his­tory.

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