Pharmaceutical News
Concerns over hospitals’ changes of drug items after the NT$8.2 billioin drug price cut

Reported by Chiu Jun-Ji from Taipei


The NHIA announced on February 6 that a price cut is to be carried out on 6821 drug items in April.  The drugs affected by the price cut include some blockbuster drugs, such as Norvasc, a common antihypertensive.  They are subject to a 1-16% price cut.  The total amount will be NT$8.2 billion.  According to past experiences, hospitals usually change their formulary lists after a price cut, causing concerns over the shortage of drugs.  The NHIA stressed that if hospitals cannot provide a good explanation of the shortage of drugs, then patients can file a complaint to the NHIA for further investigation. 

The NHI drug fees is spiralling up year after year, imposing a heavy financial burden on the NHI.  Kuo Chui-Wen, a Section Chief of the NHIA, said that the NHIA started piloting the DET system two years ago.  Any spending exceeding the pre-set budget will be clawed back through imposing a price cut in the following year. 

Kuo said that the most effective way of reducing drug fees is to cut the prices of drugs with huge sales volumes.  However, drugs for rare diseases and essential drugs will be exempt from the price cut. 

Price cut on 6821 drugs in April

According to the NHIA, 6821 drugs will face a price cut in April; and only 142 drugs will have a price increase.  The average price cut rate is 5.3%.  Norvasc, a common antihypertensive, will have a price cut of 14%.  The NHIA stressed that the price cut will not affect patients’ pockets. It is just between the NHIA and hospitals. 

However, according to past experiences, a price cut usually intrigues a wave of drug changes in hospitals.  Patients’ usual medication may no longer be available.   Kuo Chui-Wen said if patients find their new medication is not as effective as their usual prescription and unable to obtain a good reason for it, then they can file a complaint to the NHIA via telephone (02-2709-3026) or the internet (

New drugs may not be accessible

Teng Xi-Hua, the Spokesperson of the NHI Supervision Alliance, expressed that the NHI drug spending is actually quite reasonable.  To keep suppressing drug prices may deter drug companies from introducing new drugs into Taiwan.  Kuo Chui-Wen replied that last year’s overspending was mainly caused by including new drugs into the NHI, such as new drugs for treating macular degeneration.  Drug price cut is still the NHIA’s first option for controlling drug fees, said Kuo.

【2015-02-07/ Apple Daily】