The drug makers of AstraZeneca Plc and GlaxoSmithKline Plc at BeiGene Ltd. agreed to reduce the prices of some of their new innovative medicines in China by 50.6% on average in order to be covered by the country’s national insurance fund.
A total of 119 new therapies – treating everything from lung disease and diabetes to cancer and lupus – have been added to be covered by the state-run medical safety net after lengthy negotiations, National Healthcare Security said. Administration in a notice posted on its website Monday.
The average price drop is 10 percentage points lower than last year, a relief for domestic and foreign drugmakers, who have seen their profits eroded by Beijing’s push to cut healthcare costs. Companies are eager to get their treatments on the list, even at steep discounts, in order to access China’s pharmaceutical market, the second largest in the world.
Patients in China would only have to pay a small portion of the cost of these drugs out of their own pockets, as the lion’s share of the bill will be paid by China’s 2.44 trillion national health insurance fund. yuan ($ 373 billion), which covers more than 95% of the country’s 1.4 billion people. The list is updated every year with new entries since 2017, when Beijing ramped up its campaign to bring the best drugs to its growing middle class as quickly and cheaply as possible.
In total, Chinese patients can now benefit from public insurance to pay for 2,800 drugs. Beijing also managed to reduce prices by more than 40% on average for 14 drugs with annual sales exceeding 1 billion yuan each. The new version of the drug reimbursement list will be effective from March 1.
Drugs on the last list include Zoladex, AstraZeneca’s cancer treatment. Brukinsa, China’s first cancer drug to receive approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration, developed by Beijing-based BeiGene, was also on the list.
The drugs Glaxo Benlysta and Volibris, which respectively treat lupus and hypertension in the lungs, were on the list. Other high-end therapies from the multinationals were a diabetes drug from Novo Nordisk S / A, a drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease developed by Astra, and a treatment for ulcerative colitis by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.
The latest inclusions feature popular cancer immune therapies known as PD-1 inhibitors, cancer treatments that use the body’s immune system to fight tumors – a priority for Beijing as China counts. about 4 million new cancer patients per year. These treatments included those developed by Chinese companies BeiGene, Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co. and Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co.
The list also highlights treatments for Covid-19, such as the antivirals ribavirin and arbidol, although China has largely contained the outbreaks after the outbreak a year ago in Wuhan was brought under control.
It is not known to what extent companies have committed to individual therapies. In the past, the National Healthcare Security Administration has made agreements with certain drug manufacturers not to disclose details of price reductions.
For foreign drug makers, competition in China has brought significant sacrifices. New drugs are often introduced to the Chinese market at lower prices than those sold in the West, but still face competition from a growing legion of Chinese biotech companies developing similar drugs that can be sold for less.
Older drugs from global pharmaceutical companies that are no longer patented are also facing price reductions. In a separate nationwide campaign in which Chinese public hospitals bulk-buy generic drugs, prices have fallen by 90%.