China will make more cancer drugs affordable, as a new round of negotiations between the country's state medical insurance administration and pharmaceutical companies to add such drugs to the medical insurance list is scheduled to finish by the end of September.
For drugs on the list, patients can be reimbursed under national government-backed health insurance plans, up to a certain limit.
The administration said it has selected a range of drugs to be added and is confirming which drugmakers are willing to cut their prices as a condition of inclusion on the list, reports the Xinhua news agency.
All of these drugs are of great clinical value and will bring huge benefits to patients with different blood cancers or solid tumours, including colorectal cancer, renal cell carcinoma, lymphoma, and chronic myelogenous leukemia, said the administration.
China has exempted import tariffs from all common drugs including cancer drugs, cancer alkaloid-based drugs, and imported traditional Chinese medicine since 1 May.
Based on the new policy, 12 pharmaceutical companies have recalculated the prices of their products and will submit applications for price adjustments on the requirement of the administration.
A negotiation launched in 2017 has lowered the prices of 15 clinically-effective yet highly-priced cancer drugs such as Heceptin, Rituximab, and Bortezomib, as well as added them to the medical insurance reimbursement list.
Even with the help of government-backed medical insurance plans, a cancer patient in China pays CNY220,000 ($32,000) on average for treatment, 1.75 times an average family’s annual disposable income, according to a 2017 study by the Cancer Rehabilitation Society of the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association and Caixin’s health care news portal Health Point.