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China cuts prices for three drugs by more than 50% Posted 17/06/2016

In an effort to lower spending on prescription drugs, China has cut the prices for three patent-protected drugs by more than 50%.

The policy change was announced by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) on 20 May 2016. The NHFPC has made agreements with AstraZeneca, Betta Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to cut the prices on their expensive treatments in exchange for bulk purchasing.

AstraZeneca will lower the monthly cost for its cancer drug Iressa (gefitinib) from Yuan 15,000 (US$2,291) to Yuan 7,000 (US$1,069). The cost of China’s Betta Pharmaceuticals lung cancer treatment Conmana (icotinib) will be reduced from Yuan 12,000 (US$1,833) to Yuan 5,500 (US$840) for a month’s supply. GSK will reduce the price of its chronic hepatitis B treatment Viread (tenofovir disoprox), from Yuan 1,500 (US$229) to Yuan 490 (US$75) per month.

Britain’s GSK, which has experienced reduced sales in China since it was found guilty of bribery in 2014, expected the lower price to stimulate increased volume sales. At the reduced price, its hepatitis drug will now be covered by Chinese reimbursement policies, which means patients will no longer have to pay the entire price out of pocket.

The high prices of imported and patented drugs are a heavy burden for Chinese patients. The low level of state health insurance coverage means that patients and their families often have to cover the cost of expensive drugs to treat chronic conditions. Chinese patients have to pay around 77% of all private healthcare costs through out-of-pocket payments, according to the World Health Organization, compared to US patients which only pay on average around 22%. China has, however, introduced guidelines for healthcare reform and is aiming to provide affordable medical care for the entire population by 2020 [1].

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Reference
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. China’s Healthcare reform in 2010 [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2016 Jun 17]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/China-s-healthcare-reform-in-2010

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Source: Bloomberg, China Daily, GSK,NHFPC, Reuters

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