Talks aim to expand drug coverage by insurance - (China Daily via NewsPoints Desk)

  • China's National Healthcare Security Administration said it is in talks with drugmakers in an effort to expand the number of drugs covered by national health insurance, China Daily reported Tuesday.

  • The news comes as the number of cancer drugs approved for inclusion in the medical insurance program after price cuts has risen from two in 2016 to 15 and 17 in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

  • "The number of patients with some other serious diseases such as heart disease and hepatitis B is also high, and they've also appealed for more affordable drugs," the administration stated.

  • China launched pilot negotiations with pharmaceutical companies in 2015 to win price cuts on treatments for cancer and other serious diseases in exchange for coverage by the national insurance programme.

  • The prices of the 17 drugs included for coverage last year were reduced by an average of 57 percent, including a 69-percent reduction for Merck KGaA's cancer therapy Erbitux.

  • "Following studies over the past few years, the authorities may expand price negotiations to drugs treating other serious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases," suggested Shi Lichen, founder of Beijing Dingchen Consultancy, continuing "such negotiations will become a regular practice by the administration."

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