Pharmaceutical News
NHI Joint Meeting: NHI cannot be tailor-made to suit personal needs

Reported by Huang Wen-Yen from Taipei

The Joint Meeting for PBRS is one of the key features of the 2G NHI.  Its purpose is to increase the public’s involvement in NHI reimbursement decisions.  However, patient groups’ voice has been missed.  It is suggested that humanity factors should be included in the decision-making process.

The NHI drug payment prices are determined through discussions in the Joint Meeting.  Chen Gau-Tzu, Director of the Advanced Pharmacy Education Center of the KFSYSCC, said that on average, it takes 382 days for a new drug to pass the application for NHI reimbursement; and the application process is even longer for new cancer drug, about 726 days. 

Though there has been criticism of the Joint Meeting’s efficiency, the pass rate of the applications for NHI reimbursement reached 70% during the period between last February and this August.   The discussions in the Joint Meeting cover the scientific evidences of a new drug’s therapeutic effect and its impact on NHI finance; but, humanity issue has rarely been mentioned. 

The Joint Meeting recently rejected the reimbursement for the drug for atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is classified as a rare disease.  That was the third rejection.  Though, the drug’s efficacy is ready accepted by the medical professionals, the NHI reckons that the NHI resources should be used to save the majority rather than spent on a small number of patients. 

Tsai Guei-Hua, a member of the Joint Meeting and the Standing Director of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, expressed that the NHI belongs to the public; therefore, it is impossible to provide tailor-made services to suit each individual’s need.

Dr Yang Ming-Chin of the NTU and Teng Xi-Hua, the spokesperson of the NHI Supervision Alliance, both reckoned that the Joint Meeting needs to rethink the priority in drug reimbursement.  Dr Yang said that decisions on drug prices should be made in a democratic manner and take account of humanity issue. 

Prof Huang Weng-Foung of the National Yang-Ming University said that Taiwan has sufficient resources to look after the vulnerable group; and, it should be funded by the budget for social welfare or the NHI.   Consensuses have yet to be reached, said Prof Huang.

Yang Hui-Feng of the MOHW expressed that, as the public’s involvement in the decision-making process increases, it takes longer to reach consensuses. The biggest challenge faced by the NHIA is to keep the healthcare quality and the finance balanced under the financial restriction. 

【2014-10-18 / United Daily News】