Pharmaceutical News
Anti-hepatitis B drugs top the best-selling chart three years in a row

Reported by Lee Shu-Jen from Taipei

Hepatitis is the greatest threat to the nation’s health according to the 2014 best-selling drug chart.  With an annual sales of NT$2 billion in 2014, Baraclude tops the chart three years in a row.  Nexavar, a targeted treatment for liver cancer, leap from number 16 in 2013 to number 12 in 2014.  

In the 2014 chart, the top 20 best sellers included 6 cancer drugs, such as Herceptin (for breast cancer), Glivec (for blood cancer), Iressa (for lung cancer), Alimta (for lung cancer chemotherapy), Nexavar (for liver cancer) and Avastin (for colorectal cancer).

 “3-high Drugs” have the highest share

Drugs for treating the “3-hihg” conditions (hypertension, hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia) have 7 products on the top 20 chart, showing the highest share.  They include Lipitor and Cresto (for treating hyperlipidemia) in the 4th and 5th place respectively, Plavix (for preventing stroke) in the 6th place, Norvasc, Exforge and Diovan (for treating hypertension) in the 7th, 14th and 16th place respectively, and Januvia (for treating hyperglycemia) in the 15th place.

What’s worth noticing is that high-cost treatments are increasing their share of the national health spending. Replagal, a treatment for a rare disease, crept into the top 20 chart for the first time.  It costs NT$100,000 for a 3.5ml injection.  Due to the high cost, even medical centers tend not to stock it and only make the order when it is needed. 

Other high-cost treatments in the top 20 chart include Enbrel (8th place), Humira (13th place), Kogenate FS (9th place) and NovoSeven (17th place).  Though the targeted patients are few in number, the total cost is still staggering as patients usually require life-time treatment.

Pharmacist Ke Dao-Ming predicted that the price of oral hepatitis C drugs will be jaw-dropping when they are launched in Taiwan.  A treatment course may cost NT$2.5 million, said Ke.

Nexium, an anti-gastric reflux drug, has been in the 18th place in the chart for two years.  Its sales reached NT$960 million last year, showing that gastric reflux has become a common health problem.  Pharmacists suggest that the nation should cut down the intake of sweets and snacks.


【2015-03-09/ United Evening News】