Pharmaceutical News
National Health Insurance annual drug expenditure exceeds NT$200 billion with chronic disease medication accounting for largest amount in drug use

The National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) published its drug expenditure in 2019, which exceeded NT$200 billion for the first time. Two oral direct-acting antiviral HCV drugs accounted for the most in expenses, while drugs treating the chronic conditions of high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and high blood cholesterol levels accounted for the largest amount in terms of drug use.

The latest NHIA data show that drug prescriptions (including traditional Chinese medicine) accounted for NT$208.3 billion in 2019, 6.4 percent higher compared to 2018’s NT$195.7 billion.

The data show that in 2019, the top two most costly drug prescriptions were hepatitis C drugs that accounted for NT$3.96 billion and NT$2.86 billion in expenditure each, with medications to lower risk of strokes and cardiac arrest ranking third at NT$2.58 billion, while medications for hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia took fourth place, with hepatitis B ranking fifth at NT$1.84 billion.

Medical Review and Pharmaceutical Benefits Division Deputy Director Huang Chao-chieh on July 27 told reporters that National Health Insurance (NHI) drug expenditure in 2019 exceeded NT$200 billion due to the continued introduction of new drugs and an aging population, adding that the situation is not unique to Taiwan and occurring across the globe.

Deputy Director Huang said that since the eradication of HCV has been listed among the government’s top priorities, expenditure on treating the disease has seen continued growth in recent years. A NT$6.5 billion budget was drawn for 2019 to treat a growing pool of HCV patients, leading to a jump in ranking for the disease in terms of drug expenditure.

In terms of prescription volume, due to population aging and an increase in chronic diseases, medication for high blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels topped the list and are continuing to trend upward.

Deputy Director Huang noted that the NHI’s PharmaCloud System helped trim NT$7.7 billion in drug expenditure between 2013 and 2019 by preventing repeat prescription.

[2020-07-27 / CNA]