Reported by Lee Shu-Jen from Taipei
The number of the applications for the use of new oral drugs for hepatitis C fell behind the NHIA’s prediction in the Stage I implementation. Just over 800 patients pass the assessment and start the new treatments every month. Lee Po-Chang, the Director General of the NHIA, expressed that the NHIA is to hasten the State II implementation, hoping more patients can access the new treatments under a more relaxed criteria. The NHIA held an internal expert meeting on the 6th and discussed the reimbursement scope of the new oral drugs for hepatitis C in the next stage. The meeting made a conclusion to remove the criterion of “failure in interferon treatment” so that patients with severe liver fibrosis can also have a chance to use the drugs.
Dr Chien Rong-Nan, Deputy Superintendent of the Keelung Chang-Gong Memorial Hospital, estimated that about 8000 patients with severe liver fibrosis will be able to access the new treatment under the more relaxed treatment criteria. Dr Chien reminded patients to test their liver function and the condition of liver fibrosis in order to apply for the new treatments. For those qualified for the new treatment, Dr Chien also reminded them to strictly follow the treatment instructions.
Lee Po-Chang pointed out that the internal expert meeting’s conclusions will be submitted to the Joint Meeting for the Pharmaceutical Benefits and Reimbursement Scheme on April 20. He hopes that Stage II implementation can start on May 1. Liver problem has been a national health issue in Taiwan. Every year, the NHI spends NT$30 billion on treating hepatitis C, and NT$40 billion on treating hepatitis B.
Lee Po-Chang also pointed out that the NHIA is promoting the graded healthcare system in order to reduce unnecessary treatments. Taking hepatitis C for example, the new oral drugs have a 95% cure rate; therefore, it will significantly reduce the population of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer in the future, and lower the overall health spending.
Shih Ru-Liang, a Section Chief of the NHIA, pointed out that the NHIA started the reimbursement of the new oral drugs for hepatitis C from January 24. However, the number of patients qualified for the new treatments are not as many as the NHIA has predicted mainly due to the criterion of “failure in interferon treatment”.
Lee Po-Chang pointed out that once the treatment criteria are relaxed, more patients will be able to access the new treatments. Patients are advised to seek treatments as early as possible so as to reduce the risk of liver cancer.
【2017-04-06 / United Evening News】