Reported by Chen Li-Ting from Taipei
Cancer drugs have six places in the 2014 top 20 best-selling drugs chart. Doctors predicted that the spending on cancer drugs will continue to increase because cancer patients now have better survival rate due to the constant introduction of innovative drugs. Despite the NHIA’s price cuts, targeted treatment for cancers is still on the expensive side, about NT$1000 a tablet, compared with the prices of drugs for the “3-high conditions”. Cancer treatments will continue to increase their share of the health spending.
Dr. Dai Cheng-Cheng of the TMUH expressed that it is very difficult to control the spending on cancer treatments. He suggested that the authority should encourage health checks on the grounds that early diagnosis will reduce the overall treatment costs. The government should also reduce environmental pollution and increase food safety.
Dr. Chiu Zong-Jei of the Taipei VGH expressed that cancers have been the number one cause of death in Taiwan for 30 years. The patient population is increasing over the years. Technology advances has prompted the launches of new targeted treatments which cost dearly, much more expensive than drugs for other chronic illnesses.
Dr. Dai took breast cancer for an example, the survival rate increased from 70% 15 years ago to 85%. The average survival time for a lung cancer patient has also extended significantly. These factors contribute to the spiralling drug fees.
Dr. Chiu expressed that the NHIA face a dilemma of containing spending on cancer drugs. He suggested that people in the high-risk group should have their health checked regularly because early diagnosis will improve the treatment results and reduce the overall health spending.
Dr. Dai said that air, water and foods are the 3 major elements directly affecting people’s health. The government should work harder to reduce the pollution problems and tighten up food safety controls so as to improve the nation’s health.
【2015-03-03/ United Daily News】