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Targeted Drugs Introduced by NHI to Benefit Cancer Patients

  Cancer has been topping the list of the top 10 causes of death in Taiwan for years. According to an analysis of medical care for Taiwanese nationals with cancer between 2011 and 2015 done by the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) , Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of patients seeking medical care due to cancer in 2015 alone was 639,000 and the cost of medical care was up to 81.5 billion points. With the trend of precise medical care treatment, the ratio of patients receiving targeted drugs has been climbing on a yearly basis.

  Results from the NHIA analysis show that the increasing number of cancer patients in Taiwan has caused the medical care cost spent from National Health Insurance on cancer treatments to increase from 66.0 billion points in 2011 to 81.5 billion points in 2015, and according to the overall mean annual growth rate, the medical care expenditure on cancer patients has grown by 5.4%, drug cost by 6.6%, and the number of patients by 4.9%.

  The NHIA states that over the past five years, drug cost associated with cancer treatment increased from 15.16 billion points to 22.48 billion points, a mean annual growth rate of up to 10.4%. In the case of 2015, among all patients who sought medical care for cancer, 187,000 had used cancer-treating drugs, accounting for 73% of the total drug cost incurred by cancer patients.

  What is worth mentioning is that the highs and lows in cancer medication over the past five years also showed the gradual change in cancer treatment patterns with the development of medicinal technology in recent years. The market share of targeted drugs, for example, increased from 42.5% in 2011 to 54.7% in 2015; on the contrary, that of traditional chemotherapy drugs declined every year from 48.5% to 35.6%. As for hormone and other cancer-treating drugs, a slight growth was observed. In terms of the overall mean annual growth rate, targeted drugs grew by 6.5% over the past five years while traditional chemotherapy drugs dropped by 7.5%.

  In addition, a total of 4 targeted drugs treating cancer were added in 2015 in the National Health Insurance coverage, including crizotinib (200 mg and 250 mg) to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer, vemurafenib to treat metastatic adult melanoma, regorafenib to treat colorectal cancer, and coverage requirements for pazopanib have been relaxed from only renal cell carcinoma originally to include soft tissue sarcoma.

  According to the NHIA, with the constantly increasing incidence of cancer among Taiwanese people, and with its mortality rate topping the list of all diseases, the importance of medical care for cancer can be seen. In order to care for cancer patients and taking into consideration the affordability of existing NHI resources, the NHIA will continue to introduce cost-effective new drugs and relax payment criteria for cancer drugs so that other patients with deteriorating conditions despite undergoing treatment have an additional treatment option, and to help lessen the burden for patients paying for medical care at their own expense.

  • Date:2016-10-12