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China updates key drug list in boost for pharma
[SHANGHAI] China has updated a key list of medicines covered by basic medical insurance schemes, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said in a statement on Thursday, a fillip for drugmakers in the world's second-largest drug market.
The much-anticipated list of reimbursable drugs include 2,535 Western and Chinese medicines, 339 more than the most recent update of the list in 2009, the ministry said. The number of Western-style medicines included rose by 133 to 1,297.
Reuters reported in January China was set to add more than 300 new and traditional drugs to its list of medicines the state will help patients pay for, a long-awaited boost to drugs for cancer, kidney disease, hepatitis and haemophilia.
The new list included compounds such as tenofovir disoproxil, a hepatitis B drug sold as Viread by GlaxoSmithKline PLC as well as Dublin-based drugmaker Shire's haemophilia treatment ADVATE.
Shire said it welcomed the announcement which signalled "the lifting of restrictions" for its own and similar treatments. "This change means that both pediatric and adult patients with haemophilia in China will now be able to gain broader access to treatment with ADVATE," said Peter Fang, Shire's head of Asia Pacific in emailed comments.
Inclusion on the NRDL means a drug is accessible via state insurance schemes, making it affordable to the mass market. Any new drug approved for sale since the last update of the list in 2009 was until now largely paid for out-of-pocket by patients.
Changes to the so-called National Reimbursement Drug List, which determines which drugs are part-sponsored by the government, are a welcome shot in the arm for global drug companies, most of whom saw sales growth slow or contract last year in the world's number-two pharmaceutical market.