China adds more anti-cancer drugs to health insurance coverage list

China’s health insurance regulator in October added 17 anti-cancer drugs to the list of those already covered by its national medical insurance system. The approval of the therapies is part of a series of moves by the government to make cancer treatment more affordable, as the number of cases of the disease in China balloons.

The drugs approved for inclusion on the country’s National Reimbursement Drug List include 12 to treat solid tumors and five designed to treat hematological neoplasms. As part of negotiations leading up to the approvals, multinational drug manufacturers Novartis, Pfizer and AstraZeneca will make the anti cancer drugs available to Chinese consumers for discounts of 56.7% on average.

The agreement could lower revenues for the drug manufacturers, but will at the same time provide much wider access to the vast Chinese market. Chinese authorities say the amount it will pay for the drugs is subject to reevaluation after Nov. 30, 2020.