CAN­CER: Need seen for ‘fur­ther mea­sures’

China Daily European Weekly - - Spotlight -

Rather than pay an ex­or­bi­tant price, Lu, a wealthy busi­ness­man, turned to an In­di­an­made generic ver­sion called Veenat, which sold for about 200 yuan a box.

Lu was even­tu­ally re­leased in Jan­uary 2015 after prose­cu­tors with­drew the charges fol­low­ing pe­ti­tions from more than 300 peo­ple with leukemia, who called for his re­lease.

“Most of the pa­tients I know have heard about the new poli­cies, in­clud­ing the ex­emp­tion from im­port tar­iffs, to re­duce the price of an­ti­neo­plas­tic drugs,” Lu says.

“We are all thrilled and hope the price can be re­duced fur­ther. We have not seen a re­duc­tion in the price yet, but maybe we will see a dif­fer­ence in a few months when new batches of im­ported drugs ar­rive.”

Li Ling, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nomics at Pek­ing Univer­sity who fo­cuses on health pol­icy stud­ies, says more than half of the an­ti­neo­plas­tic drugs avail­able in China are im­ported and, un­til re­cently, they cost far more than in many other coun­tries for sev­eral rea­sons — in­clud­ing im­port tar­iffs of be­tween 5 and 8 per­cent and value-added tax levied at 17 per­cent.

The re­cent mea­sures, in­clud­ing the re­duc­tion of VAT to 3 per­cent, could see the price fall by about 20 per­cent.

“Fur­ther mea­sures are needed to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the prices of the drugs, such as cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment and in­cor­po­rat­ing them into med­i­cal care in­sur­ance pro­grams,” Li says. “The re­im­burse­ment rates for an­ti­neo­plas­tic drugs should also be raised,” she adds, re­fer­ring to the prac­tice whereby pa­tients bill their in­sur­ance com­pany for the cost of med­i­ca­tion and the money is re­mit­ted to them.

Yu, from the Na­tional Health Com­mis­sion, says that since 2016, the com­mis­sion and the Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity have held ne­go­ti­a­tions with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies about the prices of 39 patented drugs, in­clud­ing 17 an­ti­neo­plas­tic treat­ments.

The talks re­sulted in the prices of the 39 drugs be­ing re­duced by more than half on av­er­age, and they have all been in­cluded in the re­im­burse­ment list for na­tional med­i­cal in­sur­ance pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to Yu, who adds that the mea­sures had saved pa­tients 6.2 bil­lion yuan by April 18.

“Fur­ther sim­i­lar mea­sures will be taken to lower the prices of an­ti­neo­plas­tic drugs to ben­e­fit pa­tients,” he says.

Chen Jinfu, di­rec­tor of the med­i­cal in­sur­ance di­vi­sion at the Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity, says many of the an­ti­neo­plas­tic drugs af­fected by the re­cent changes are widely used and highly re­li­able but ex­pen­sive.

They in­clude Her­ceptin, a breast can­cer treat­ment de­vel­oped by Roche, a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany in Switzer­land.

“We will i drugs in our r to make the m Chen says. will also get in­cluded in t in China.”

Lu, the pa a re­cent year rs have been in n ance pro­gra am ceptin.

Since 2013 3 bursable in paid less th h price for the e

Ac­cord­ing g breast canc c re­im­bursem m treat­ment coc yuan. Howe ev than 80 per r ment’s re­cen n adopted by R

“Now man n re­lied on che e via e-comm m them,” he s some patent t sions.”

Li, from mea­sures ar r tic phar­mac c re­search an nd drugs, whic ch

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