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Affordable cancer drugs to protect public health

Updated: Feb 10,2019 4:20 PM

The price of cancer drugs was once sky-high due to its huge research costs and limited social insurance coverage. In 2017, about 130 billion yuan ($19 billion) was spent on these drugs in China, a heavy burden for most patients.

Premier Li Keqiang vowed early last year that the Chinese government will speed up lifting patients’ financial burden in fighting cancer. Starting on May 1 last year, import tariffs were lifted on all common drugs, including cancer drugs, cancer alkaloid-based drugs, and imported traditional Chinese medicine. Prices of related drugs had dropped by 3.30 to 51.62 percent three months later.

Moreover, starting from 2016, the government has organized negotiations on drug prices and the medical insurance catalogue, including 17 anti-cancer medicines. As of April 18 last year, 6.24 billion yuan was saved due to price reduction of those medicines and reimbursement by medical insurance.

According to the announcement by the National Healthcare Security Administration on Oct 10, another 17 anti-cancer medicines were included in the medical insurance catalogue with an average markdown of 56.7 percent, which has been implemented in many provincial regions, such as Beijing, Tianjin and Central China’s Hunan province.

The government will make more efforts to lower prices of anti-cancer drugs. Research and innovation will get boosted, and approvals will be streamlined to accelerate procedures for anti-cancer drugs coming into the market.

Illegal activity, such as commercial bribes and price monopolies, will be cracked down to reduce circulation costs. In addition, treatment levels will be improved while enhancing rational use of anti-cancer drugs.