Pharmaceutical News
Budget for hepatitis C treatments could reach NT$4.8 billion next year

Reported by Lee Shu-Jen from Taipei

Taiwan has entered a new era of hepatitis C treatment. This year, the MOHW set an annual budget of NT$2 billion for new oral hepatitis C drugs.  So far, 8000 patients have received the new drugs.  The overall treatment success rate is 95%.  As the effect is very significant, the NHIA plans to increase next year’s budget.  The preliminary plan is to set a budget of NT$4.8 billion.  About 17,000 patients will benefit.

Dr Chien Rong-Nan, Vice Superintendent of the Keelung Chang Gong Hospital, expressed that Taiwan has made a great move in preventing hepatitis C. 8,000 patents have already benefited from this year’s budget of NT$2 billion for new oral hepatitis C drugs.   The NHIA further directed NT$400 million from the budget for the pilot scheme for treating hepatitis B and hepatitis C to the new oral hepatitis C drugs.  This will cover another 1,717 patients.  In total, over 10,000 patients can be included in this treatment program this year.

Dr Chien pointed out that in order to achieve the WHO’s target of reducing new hepatitis C cases by 50% in 2025 and completely eradicating hepatitis C in 2030, the MOHW has to treat at least 12,000 patients in 2017 and at least 18,000 patients in 2018.

Dr Chien pointed out that each cured hepatitis C patient will save the NHI about NT$150,000 because one source of infection is cured.  “The treatment is cost effective,” said Dr Chen, “Hepatitis C is curable after receiving treatments for 3-6 months.  Every cured patient will save the government’s healthcare resources in the future.”

Dr Kao Chia-Hong of the NTUH hoped that the NHI can further relax the reimbursement criteria, for example, making the new oral drugs available for patient of stage II liver fibrosis.  If possible, the oral drugs should be provided for every patient with hepatitis C in the future.

As for the choice of drugs, three drug companies are currently supplying new oral drugs to the NHI.  Those drugs vary in dose and therapeutic course, and each has its own competitive edge.  And, competition does help drive down drug prices, said Dr Kao.

【2017-09-15/ United Evening News】