Pharmaceutical News
THRF backs NHIA’s decision to stop reimbursing 17 drugs

Reported by Yu Xian

The NHIA decides to stop reimbursing 17 drugs because their selling prices are higher than the reimbursement prices.   Cheng Bai-Chun from the NHIA explained that this decision is made on the grounds of price fairness. Cheng stressed that there are substitutes for those products.  Chu Hsieh-kuang, Vice CEO of the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation (THRF), said in an interview that to stop reimbursing instruction drugs is actually a right move as there are just too many drug items on the NHI reimbursement list. 

Instruction drugs should not be reimbursed

According to the NHIA, the decision of removing 17 drugs from the NHI reimbursement scheme is because some hospitals complained that the selling prices of those products are higher than the NHI reimbursement prices.  Among those affected drugs, the manufacturers of 4 products have agreed to lower the drug prices.  For the other 13 drug items, 3 are subject to a ban on manufacturing for failing the PIC/S GMP requirement; 4 are classified as instruction drugs which, by law, should not be reimbursed; and the remaining 7 drug items account for less than 10% of the annual usage.

Chu Hsieh-Kuang expressed that according to the NHI Act, instruction drugs are excluded from the NHI reimbursement scope.  The reimbursement for instruction drugs has always been a breach of the regulation.  Moreover, it gives the public a wrong idea that all drugs should be made available under the NHI.

Drug price adjustment is to keep the market fair

Chang Chi-Hua, President of the Taiwan Medical Alliance for Labor Justice and Patient Safety, questioned the safety and effectiveness of the substitute products.  In response to the question, Cheng Bai-Chun explained: “Substitute products have the same ingredients as the original products.  The side effects are similar, too.”

Dr. Huang Li-Min, Director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases of the National Taiwan University Hospital, criticized the NHIA for its exceptionally huge price cut on drugs if there are substitutes for them on the market.  Dr. Huang said that eventually, there will be just one drug left for each condition.  Cheng Bai-Chun refuted this criticism.  “Drug price adjustment is based on market prices.  The prices set by drug companies should not deviate too much from the NHI reimbursement prices.  The NHIA has the obligation to keep the price at a fair level,” said Cheng.

【2015-08-24 / Taiwan Awakening News】