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Premier presses for work against cancer, rare diseases

Updated: Feb 14,2019 7:31 AM

At the State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Feb 11, decisions were made to enhance early treatment of cancers, and grant preferential value-added tax for rare disease drugs.

Premier Li said the prevention and treatment of cancers and rare diseases concern the well-being of the general public, and more work should be done to reduce the mortality rate and make medicines more available and affordable.

As reflected in statistics, the incidence and mortality rates of cancers are on the rise in China, and more than 20 million residents are suffering from rare diseases.

“Cancers not only torture patients, but also throw their families in distress and even poverty,” Premier Li said, adding that all related departments should ensure policies are in place to ease their burdens.

According to a report at the meeting, 17 types of cancer drugs were included in the medical insurance in 2018 with their prices down about 56.7 percent, much lower than that of neighboring countries and regions.

Despite the progress, Premier Li called for rapid adjustments to the medical insurance drug list to make more cancer drugs available and affordable.

He emphasized that the prevention and treatment of cancer depends on hospitals and drugs, which implies a complete cancer diagnosis and treatment system, and faster registration and approval of new cancer drugs both at home and abroad.

Internet Plus healthcare should be promoted to let people get access to more high-quality cancer diagnosis and treatment resources, which can not only improve livelihoods, but also advance development, he said.

According to those at the meeting, accelerated efforts will be made to improve the cancer diagnosis and treatment system. Cancer prevention will be given priority, with the promotion of cancer screening and early treatment, to reduce the mortality rate.

Clinical research and the application of new technologies for tumor diagnosis and treatment will be supported. Internet Plus healthcare will be developed to enhance services at medical institutions at the grassroots level.

In addition to faster registration and approval of new cancer drugs both at home and abroad, the temporary import channel of urgent cancer drugs will be ensured.

It was also decided at the meeting that drugs required for more than 20 million patients suffering from rare diseases must be guaranteed. Starting in March, 21 rare disease drugs and four bulk drugs will enjoy preferential value-added tax.

Disease treatment waits for no one, and especially for cancer patients and families, fighting cancer is a race against death, the Premier added.