Japan Closes in on Cutting Timeline for Pharmaceutical Price Evaluations from Two Years to One

The long-simmering question of when and how Japan will implement a proposed plan to evaluate and revise drug prices annually, instead of every two years, may finally be resolved next year.

That is when a survey being conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to evaluate drug pricing will conclude. Among other things, the survey will determine if there are significant and persistent gaps between market prices for pharmaceuticals and those offered through Japan’s national health insurance plans.

The policy of evaluating and reviewing drug prices every two years has long been enshrined in Japanese law, under which the government decides drug company reimbursement rates and the payments are subsidized by the country’s public insurance system. Four years ago, Japan’s Central Social Insurance Medical Council (JCSIM) special committee on drug prices proposed to reduce the time between price revisions for pharmaceutical products. But that proposal has been stalled until now.