Source: China State Council Information Office 2
The highly rated black comedy movie, “Dying to Survive,” has made the availability of cancer drugs in China a hot topic again.
In showing the desolate lives of leukemia patients, the movie, based on a true story, aroused great compassion across the nation for those who are verging on bankruptcy due to the expensive cancer drugs.
Following the premiere of the film on July 6, the Chinese government is deliberating on a policy aimed at slashing the prices of the cancer drugs by introducing regulations to mandate that provincial-level governments implement a centralized purchasing scheme.
According to an anonymous industrial insider, the newly established State Medical Insurance Administration recently convened in Shanghai, and discussed methods for lowering the still skyrocketing prices of cancer drugs despite the government’s recent scrapping of import tariffs on all cancer drugs in May.
“These purchasing mechanisms focused mainly on cancer drugs are expected to further bring down the costs which have already been exempted from import tariffs,” the insider said.
According to the State Medical Insurance Administration, medical insurance in China will further cover more cancer drugs, and make them more affordable through market access negotiations between the administration and multinational pharmaceutical companies.
Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, announced in a press conference held on April 28 that China has divided the cancer drugs listed, or expected to be listed, in the medical insurance system into three catalogues.
According to Zeng, the drugs concerned can be dichotomized as Medicare and non-Medicare drugs. Moreover, the drugs covered by medical insurance can be further grouped by the number of their manufacturers.
Drugs produced by more than three pharmaceutical companies will undertake centralized drug bidding, while those below three will go through negotiations to agree a price. At the same time, medical insurance can also open access to non-Medicare drugs which have gone through meticulous and professional evaluations and intensive negotiations.
“We should fully utilize the huge market in China, where the substantial demand can play a key role in bringing down the price, and that is precisely what we want,” Li Ling, director of the National Health and Development Research Center at Peking University, said in her interview with Economic Information Daily.
During the past few years, sales of anti-tumor drugs in China grew at an annual rate of about 20 percent and last year alone sales revenues reached 141 billion yuan (US$21.15 billion), according to statistics released by Qianzhan Industrial Research Institute, a consultancy headquartered in Beijing..
China is set to become the second largest market for anti-tumor drugs by sales volume – behind the United States.