China slashes prices of top-selling cancer, hep B drugs
- AstraZeneca's (AZ) Iressa and Beta Pharma's Conmama, both for treatment of lung cancer, have had their prices cut in China, as has GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Viread for treatment of hepatitis B.
- The price cuts, which are at least 50%, were agreed upon by the central government and drug makers after negotiations.
- After the cuts, Iressa will cost $1,020 per month, while Viread will cost $75 and Conmana will cost $840.
The price cuts represent the culmination of a large-scale drug pricing negotiation, which is part of China's ongoing healthcare overhaul.
Price cuts for these much-needed drugs will not only save money for the Chinese central government, which is dealing with the challenges of addressing the medical needs of an aging population, but it will also increase access to innovative medicines for those who could not previously afford them.
Initially there were five companies involved in the negotiations, including the three companies included in this agreement, in addition to Celgene and Roche. Celgene and the Chinese government were unable to reach a suitable agreement, and Roche is still in the process of negotiating.
In many cases in China, patented drugs are paid for out-of-pocket, meaning wealthier individuals can afford them while others cannot.
Yang Dongsheng, the tendering officer of the R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee, an advocacy group representing major international drug companies in China, told The Wall Street Journal: “If the national negotiation works well, it will save drugmakers from going through negotiations with each province and further price cutting on the local level. And it’s easier to reach agreement on the national level."