China Drugmaker Access May Require Profit Cut, Chen Says - (Bloomberg via NewsPoints Desk)

  • China's former health minister Chen ZhuWestern said that drugmakers may have to give hefty subsidies and forgo some profit on expensive cancer drugs if they want access to China’s "huge market," Bloomberg reported on Monday.
  • With the cost of some oncology drugs reaching $100 000 a year, Chinese officials may push for deals like one reached last year with Novartis, in which the company agreed to donate three doses of Gleevec for every one sold to the government, noted Chen.
  • "If the cost is too high, maybe only a few percent of patients can benefit," said Chen, adding that "if we can arrange an appropriate, acceptable, affordable price, then you can have a huge market."
  • Although government insurance programmes have increased coverage of cancer treatments, there’s still a gap, especially in rural areas, Chen said, adding that closing the gap means drugmakers may have to give up some profit margin on their drugs.
  • Access to China’s 1.3 billion people should more than cover the loss, he noted.
  • He also said that China has "significantly strengthened" its readiness for an infectious disease outbreak since coming under criticism during the SARS pandemic 10 years ago, adding that in contrast to past outbreaks, when Chinese officials were accused of withholding information, there’s a new commitment to transparency and better procedures for reporting infections.

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