South Korea to Cover Public Health-Related Clinical Trials

In a step forward for the advancement of health research in South Korea, patients participating in clinical trials aimed at advancing public health are now covered by the country’s vaunted national health insurance system. The change went into effect on May 1.

To qualify for reimbursement from Korea’s National Health Insurance Service, participants must be involved in clinical trials deemed by the government to be conducted for the “public good,” or in response to public health emergencies. Covered trials include investigator and sponsor-initiated trials and can be financed by pharmaceutical companies, in addition to governmental agencies, academic institutions, and private organizations.

Clinical trials conducted exclusively for commercial purposes will not be eligible for the reimbursement.

While Korea, with its top tier medical care, has for years been a leader in health research, its national health plan has generally not covered costs to patients participating in clinical trials in the past.