Reported by Lee Shu-Jen from Taipei
Based on his long experiences in the researches of NHI drug reimbursement issues, Dr Ko Bor-Sheng of the NTUH suggests that the Taiwanese government should negotiate with drug companies about risk-sharing schemes so as to allow patients to access new drugs as soon as possible.
The Australian government started reimbursing immunotherapies for lung cancer from this year after reaching a confidential agreement with drug companies on drug prices. Dr Steven Kao, an expert in Australian policies and clinical researches, expressed that the Australian experience could be replicated in Taiwan because the two countries have a similar GDP.
According to the data of American Society of Clinical Oncology, over 70 new cancer drugs were launched during 2011 and 2015, causing a sharp increase in drug fees and imposing a heavy financial burden on all governments.
The Taiwanese government also faces this problem. Taking non-small cell lung cancer for example, the treatment cost was NT$5.4billion in 2014 in Taiwan and could reach NT$14.3billion in 2024. Among all drugs, immunotherapies have seen the most significant increase. However, the NHIA’s reimbursement decision process is very slow. On average, non-cancer drugs have to wait 290 days to be listed in the NHI Benefit Scheme. It takes even longer for new cancer drugs, about 556 days. Many patients did not live long enough to see their treatments being available on the NHI.
Dr Ko expressed that, in order to expedite the NHI listing of new drugs, the NHIA should increase the healthcare budget and reduce waste. Other governments tackled this problem by either imposing drug co-payment or running a risk-sharing scheme with drug companies.
Dr Ko expressed that it is not very likely to increase drug co-payment in Taiwan because law amendment is required. Therefore, risk-sharing schemes are a more feasible solution, said Dr Ko.
【2017-12-21/ United Evening News】