17 cancer drugs approved
National medical insurance coverage expanded
China has approved 17 new cancer drugs for inclusion in its national health insurance system, China’s State Medical Insurance Administration announced on Wednesday.
The 17 adopted drugs are crucial to treating cancers including kidney, colorectal and lymphoma, the statement released by the administration read.
The addition would make cancer drugs more affordable to the general public and improve their treatment, administration head Hu Jinglin told China Central Television (CCTV).
Ten out of the 17 are new drugs that came onto the market after 2017, the CCTV report said.
Purchasing new drugs encouraged pharmaceutical companies to expand their investment in research, Hu was quoted as saying.
Shortly after its establishment at the end of May, the administration began negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for the purchase of new cancer drugs for listing on China’s national health system.
Previously the 17 drugs were mainly imported and not covered by the country’s health insurance.
Negotiations sought to balance patient demand with adequate profits for pharmaceutical companies, CCTV reported.
The price of new China-made drugs on the list was slashed 56.7 percent, while the imported drugs would cost “36 percent lower than neighboring countries,” the statement read.
Chinese pharmaceutical companies lag behind their international counterparts in research and development due to the high up front investment threshold and the risk of failure after decades of research, Chinese experts noted.
In June, the issue was officially highlighted with the approved release of the Chinese comedy-drama Dying to Survive, a movie which depicted Chinese cancer patients illegally purchasing generic drugs from India.
Seventeen drugs was quite a lim- ited number, believed Tian Guangqiang, an assistant research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The majority of cancer drugs on the Chinese market are manufactured by US and European pharmaceutical companies, Tian told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The negotiations represented just a beginning for the new administration, said Zhou Zijun, a professor at Peking University’s School of Public Health.
“More categories of anti-cancer drugs will likely be adopted in the future via public bidding and procurement,” Zhou told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In a bid to offer more affordable anti-cancer drugs to the public, in September, the State medical insurance administration has lowered the procurement prices of 14 cancer drugs.
China exempted all cancer drugs from import tariffs since May 1, as a move to further open UP the market.