SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China's new health insurance regulator will begin negotiations with domestic and foreign pharmaceutical companies to lower the prices of cancer drugs in an attempt to reduce the financial burden on patients, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. state news agency Xinhua.
The State Health Insurance Administration said it was preparing to include more cancer drugs on its list of eligible drugs for reimbursement, and said that 10 foreign pharmaceutical companies and eight nationals had expressed willingness to work with the authority .
Cancer rates in China have skyrocketed, driven by an increasing number of people over 60, excessive tobacco use among men and exposure to pollution. The National Cancer Center said last year that there were 4.29 million new cases each year and 2.81 million deaths.
Delegates to parliament said in May that the five-year cancer survival rate was only 30 percent in 2015, less than half the US level, and the government has promised to improve that by 15 percentage points by 2030
Improving insurance coverage is one of the biggest challenges facing China as its population ages. It is committed to making medicines and treatments cheaper and easier to get.
A national health insurance system began covering 16 brands of cancer drugs last year, cutting prices by 44 percent on average, Xinhua reported this year.
China also eliminated tariffs on all cancer drugs imported as of May 1, following a decision by Prime Minister Li Keqiang in April.
Report by David Stanway; Edition by Robert Birsel