SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China's new health insurance regulator will open negotiations with domestic and foreign drug companies to lower cancer drug prices in an attempt to reduce the financial burden on patients, Xinhua News Agency said on Saturday.
The State Medical Insurance Administration said it is preparing to include more cancer drugs on the list of eligible medicines and said that 10 foreign and eight drug companies in the home had expressed a willingness to work with the authority.
China's cancer rate has risen, driven by growing numbers over the 60's, heavy smoking among men and exposure to contamination. The National Cancer Center said last year there were 4.29 million new cases each year and 2.81
Delegates to Parliament said in May that the five-year cancer survival rate was only 30 percent in 2015, less than half of the US level, and the government has promised to improve it by 15 percentage points in 2030.
Improved insurance is one of the biggest challenges facing China, as the population is getting older. It has promised to make medicine and treatment cheaper and easier available.
A national health insurance system began to cover 16 brands with targeted cancer drugs last year and lowered prices by 44 percent on average, Xinhua reported this year.
China also removed tariffs on all imported cancer drugs as of May 1, following a decision by Prime Minister Li Keqiang in April.
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing Robert Birsel