Pharmaceutical News
NHIA to scrap prior approval for the reimbursement of dementia drugs

Reported by Liu Chia-Yun and Lo-Chen

The NHIA has revised the regulation of the reimbursement of dementia drugs.  From October, NHIA’s prior approval for reimbursement is no longer required.  However, for first-time users, test reports have to be included in the patient’s record.  Doctors urge the NHIA to further relax the regulations by allowing doctors from departments other than psychiatry and neurology to prescribe dementia drugs so as to make the care more accessible.

So far, there are about 260,000 people suffering from dementia in Taiwan.  The NHIA received 50,000 applications of prior approval for the reimbursement of dementia drugs last year.  Lien Hong-Rong of the NHIA expressed that the NHIA will continue monitoring the use and carrying out spot check after the revocation of the prior approval.  The NHIA may restore the requirement if the system is abused.

Gu Po-Jen, the President of the Taiwan Pharmacist Association, expressed that the authority made this decision to ensure that patients’ treatment won’t be delayed.  Some doctors said that dementia drugs are quite effective in improving patients’ conditions and slow down the progression of dementia.  It used to take a few months for patients to access the NHI-reimbursed drugs.  The scrapping of prior approval is good news for patients.

Doctors also pointed out that in many countries, such as Japan and the UK, the prescription of dementia drugs is not just limited to doctors of the departments of psychology or neurology, because dementia patients may also seek treatments in other medical departments.  Therefore, doctors urged the NHIA to further relax the restriction.  However, the medical industry has not yet form a consensus on this issue.

A director of the neurology department revealed that doctors have to assess a patient’s mental conditions before prescribing dementia drugs.  Doctors of other medical departments do not have such training.  However, some neurology doctors reckoned that such training can be provided for doctors of other medical departments in order to make dementia treatment more accessible.

Tang Li-Yu, the Secretary General of the Taiwan Dementia Association, expressed that over-specialization will not satisfy the growing demands of dementia treatment.  Community care can play a key role in help confirm diagnosis and slow down the progression of dementia. 

Dr Lai Der-Jen, President of the Taiwan Dementia Association, expressed that the revocation of prior approval will expedite patient’s access to dementia drugs.  He urged the NHI committee members to form a consensus on the reimbursement criteria for hospitals to follow.  He also requested doctors to observe self-discipline.

【2017-04-13╱United Daily News】