Reported by Chiang Hui-Chun from Taipei
The NHIA has decided to reimburse the new oral treatments for hepatitis C from next year. The NHIA concluded in a meeting that patients with at least stage 3 of liver fibrosis and having failed the interferon treatment will be given the first priority. The NHI-reimbursed oral treatment is only available to 8000 patients in the first year. Qualified patients should register with the NHIA and should visit hospital for a recheck for every 4 weeks. If the virus count does not reduce to a satisfactory level, the treatment has to be stopped. Experts estimate that this treatment scheme can reduce liver cancer patients by 300 a year.
Janice Chen, the Chairperson of the NHI Drug Dispensing Items and Fee Schedule Joint Establishment Meeting, expressed that there is consensus in the meeting that the government should proactively get involved in treating hepatitis C. It has concluded that NT$2 billion of the global budget will be spent on new oral drugs for hepatitis C. Two new drugs will be added to the NHI Benefit Scheme next year, they are: Daklinza + Sunvepra from BMS Taiwan, and Exviera + Viekirax from AbbVie.
Janice Chen expressed that the NHI-reimbursed new oral drugs is for genotype 1 hepatitis C. It will be reimbursed at NT$249,984 per therapeutic course. However, the drug price will not be announced so as to help drug companies to negotiate drug prices in other countries. As for genotype 2 hepatitis C patients, they will continue to be treated with interferon.
Janice Chen said that about 6750 patients meet the primary treatment criteria. If there are surplus in the budget, the treatment will be made available to patients with stage 3 of liver fibrosis but without any prior interferon treatments. In order to prevent patients from wasting the resources, there will be an exit mechanism. Patients are subject to a health recheck for every 4 weeks. Those whose virus counts do not reduce to a satisfactory level will be excluded from the treatment scheme.
Dr Chien Rong-Nan, President of the Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver, expressed that patients with stage 3 of liver fibrosis are very likely to develop liver cancer. Failure in interferon treatments used to indicate the end of all treatment options. If the new treatments can clear the virus, it will not only improve patients’ health but also save NHI resources.
【2016-10-24/ United Daily News】