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The Coverage of oral drug treatments for Hepatitis C in the National Health Insurance is approved with conditions by the NHI Supervisory Board

  The coverage of oral drug treatments for hepatitis C in the National Health Insurance (NHI) is a public health policy approved by President Tsai; this policy was submitted and approved by the NHI Supervisory Board of the Ministry of Health and Welfare in the meeting today (Dec. 23). Li Po-Chang, Director General of the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) expressed his gratitude for the support of Board members. This payment plan marks the start of a new page for hepatitis C treatment in Taiwan. The NHIA will be committed to developing and testing a hepatitis C patient registration system, as well as implement the system as quickly as possible based on the board members' decision to bring forth significant benefits to the first batch of 8,000 hepatitis C patients.

  After oral drug treatments for hepatitis C entered the Taiwanese market, a recovery rate of >90% was registered. However, since the price of the drugs is relatively expensive, many patients were hoping that the drugs can be included in the NHI coverage as soon as possible. The NHIA informed the NHI Supervisory Board of the Implementation Plan for the NHI Coverage of oral drug treatments for Hepatitis C. Since the allocated budget for the upcoming year amounts to NT$2 billion, 8,000 hepatitis C patients can be included for treatment in the first year. To ensure fair distribution and full disclosure, different stages and regions will be divided for distribution, and gastroenterologists will screen for subjects that meet the inclusion criteria, whose medication costs will be fully covered by the NHI following registration.

  According to Taiwanese scholars, there are approximately 550,000 hepatitis C patients in Taiwan. Ever since oral drug treatments for hepatitis C entered the market, its high recovery rate has raised patients' hopes for successful treatment. Therefore, as instructed by Vice President Chen, the MOHW established the Hepatitis C National Office Flagship Program; this program will be directed by the Minister of the MOHW, Tzou-Yien Lin, and an academician from Academia Sinica Ding-Shinn Chen, both of whom will lead various experts in formulating hepatitis treatment strategies with hopes that Taiwan will be able to achieve the vision of the World Health Organization to eliminate hepatitis C completely by 2030.

  Because the oral drug treatments for hepatitis C were just launched recently, the price of these drugs are extremely high with a single treatment session costing over NT$1 million; the NHIA has negotiated with the supplier for price reduction as well as invited expert scholars and representatives of medical, pharmaceutical, and patient groups to hold public hearings. The NHI Supervisory Board subsequently discussed and coordinated the total amount of the NHI medical expense for 2017, while the MOHW approved on November 2, 2016 to allocate a budget of NT$3.101 billion for hepatitis C medication, of which NT$2 billion will be used to cover the oral drug treatments for hepatitis C. The remaining NT$1.101 billion will be reserved for patients who do not meet the usage criteria and still require traditional interferon treatments.

  The NHIA indicated that the coverage plan for oral drug treatments for hepatitis C launching next year was based on a budget amount of NT$2 billion. In the first year, approximately 8,000 patients will benefit from the plan, 6,848 of whom will be treated at hospitals and 1,152 will receive treatment at medical clinics. To ensure fair distribution and full disclosure, the first half of the year is divided into three stages and six branch regions. After the six months of implementation, budget will be readjusted if a balance remains.

  The NHIA emphasized that it will adopt an individual case registration system to conduct management and control, and mandate hospitals to help their patients record relevant data into the Individual Case Registration System. Subsequently, patients who meet the coverage criteria will be covered by the NHI. The NHIA will disclose the allocated number of individuals from each region on its official website.

  • Date:2016-12-23