(CBN - Global) May 18 -- China has requested five pharmaceutical companies, namely the UK's AstraZeneca Plc [LON:AZN] and GlaxoSmithKline PLC [LON:GSK], Switzerland's Roche Holding AG [VTX:ROG], the US's Celgene Corp. [NASDAQ:CELG], and China's Betta Pharmaceuticals Co. to reduce their prices on medications used to treat tumors by as much as 50 percent.
Any failure by the companies to comply with this request will mean that their drugs are excluded from the list of medications reimbursable under China's national healthcare insurance program.
The Commission is working to negotiate prices with these drugmakers and there will need to be a substantial reduction in price in order to be included on the list of reimbursable medications, said Mr. Ma Xiaowei, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The number of lung cancer patients in China is increasing at an annual rate of 26.9 percent, and lung cancer has become the country's number one cause of death due to malignant tumors. China is expected to have one million lung cancer patients by 2025 and the average annual treatment cost for each patient will be approximately CNY150,000 (USD23,000).
High drug prices have led some Chinese cancer patients to travel abroad to buy generic drugs, an action that is illegal under Chinese law. Last year, a Chinese citizen who travelled to India to purchase medication on behalf of several hundred leukemia patients was arrested on suspicion of selling counterfeit drugs and was detained for 117 days.