(Yicai Global) April 24 -- China’s duty-free policy on imported cancer drugs will cut the price of the medicines by as much as 20 percent, according to provincial news outlet Hainan Special Zone News.
A late-stage lung cancer patient who is currently taking Osimertinib, a third-generation drug for such sufferers, pays about CNY50,000 (USD7,928) for a box, which lasts about a month, he told the reporter. He calculated his expected outgoings after the new duty-free policy comes into effect at around CNY40,000.
China will stop requiring import duty and eliminate all unjustified surcharges on cancer drugs, including traditional Chinese remedies, from May 1 as it looks to combat a rising number of patients suffering the disease, Premier Li Keqiang said at a cabinet meeting on April 12. The decision had been widely anticipated after Li said following the first session of the National People’s Congress, the country’s national legislature, that China would reregulate foreign trade in goods and eliminate tariffs for cancer medicines.
Imported cancer drugs are mainly divided into small molecule, monoclonal antibody and chemotherapy medicines, Lin Haifeng, director of the oncology department at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Hainan Medical University, told Yicai Global. The substantial price reduction will make drugs more affordable to many patients, he added.
Hospitals use different drugs depending on the type of tumor and whether or not insurance will cover the costs, Lin told Yicai Global. About 20 to 30 percent of breast cancer patients and 20 percent of lung cancer patients use imported medicine. “In some first-tier cities, the proportion is higher,” he added. “In large hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the proportion of people with lung cancer using imported drugs could be greater than 50 percent.”
Editor: James Boynton