Pharmaceutical News
Efforts at establishing prescription and non-prescription statuses for instruction drugs should be accelerated

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare indicate that the National Health Insurance system spent more than NT$2 billion on instruction drugs for 18.5 million patients. Counting the cost of diagnosis and pharmacy services and the registration fees paid by patients, total spending on instruction drugs totaled around NT$9.4 billion, a significant amount.

A national policy adviser to the president and president of the Federation of Taiwan Pharmacists’ Associations, Huang Jin-shun said that the phase out of instruction drugs from the NHI fee schedule should be implemented gradually in phases. Among the 841 instruction drugs on the NHI fee schedule, those that are seldomly prescribed under reimbursement should be removed first. The government should also gather members of the medical community, experts and academics to reassess the use of instruction drugs on the NHI fee schedule using real world data and come up with a plan. Mr. Huang also said that further discussion is required to determine whether instruction drugs should be administered to children ages 12 and under without a doctor’s recommendation, and whether parents should be encouraged to administer medicine to their children on their own or arrange for medical attention.

Regarding the instruction drugs that should remain on the NHI fee schedule, Mr. Huang said that as a next step, the government should focus on guiding drug manufacturers in applying for prescription drug designation. The removal of instruction drugs from the NHI fee schedule is not only a step towards the better implementation of the referral system but will also save on resources that could significantly boost efforts at introducing new drugs or fund other NHI projects. Therefore, Taiwan should strive to be closer in line with international conventions and halt the reimbursement of instruction drugs.

[2023-5-8/Liberty Times]