Japan struggling to control soaring drug prices

As spending on pharmaceuticals continues to accelerate in Japan, the government is exploring ways to control the surging costs of drugs essential for maintaining the health of its aging population.

The Ministry of Finance plans to call for cuts to the standard prices of drugs and for other cost-controlling measures to Japan’s national health insurance plans in the next fiscal year. And beginning in fiscal 2021, Japan plans to review drug prices annually, instead of every two years, as it currently does.

But developing drugs requires massive investments. Critics say cutting drug prices further is likely to adversely impact the development of new treatments. Meanwhile, drugs in high demand, including cutting edge treatments for hepatitis C and new anti-cancer drugs, will continue to drive escalating healthcare spending