China speeds approval of urgent care, cancer drugs

Moving to address a chronic shortage of drug treatments for cancer patients, Chinese health authorities in February announced several new policies to bring urgently needed cancer pharmaceuticals to market.

The National Medical Products Administration and the National Health Commission will make it simpler for imported cancer-fighting drugs deemed efficacious in early clinical trials to secure approval. Authorities are also exploring ways to speed up the approval of domestically produced cancer drugs.

The announcement follows a decision earlier this year to cut taxes on some orphan drugs almost entirely. The slashing of the value-added-tax (VAT) on certain categories of rare disease therapies took effect on March 1, 2019. The cut in the VAT from 16% to 3% affects 21 orphan drugs and an additional four active pharmaceutical ingredients.