Korea announces steps to cut drug prices, reimbursement

In a move certain to escalate tensions between South Korea and the pharmaceutical industry, the government is planning steps designed to lower the prices it pays for drugs under its universal health insurance system.

Under the new plan, the government will reevaluate drug products for their clinical efficacy and financial impact, with the goal of cutting prices to consumers and government reimbursement to pharmaceutical firms of imported drugs and domestically produced generic drugs. The move is a blow to pharmaceutical makers. With a population of 50 million, Korea is the third largest pharmaceutical market in the Asia-Pacific region.