17 can­cer drugs ap­proved

Na­tional med­i­cal in­sur­ance cov­er­age ex­panded

Global Times US Edition - - TOPNEWS - By Liu Caiyu

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.

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