China's recent policy to increase patients' access to cancer medicines has helped more people receive quality treatment, said the Beijing-based newspaper Health News Wednesday.
The Chinese government has introduced several policies to reduce cancer patients' medical expenses and increase the supply of the latest cancer medicines.
In October 2018, 17 cancer drugs widely used in tumor treatment were included in China's national basic healthcare system and saw an average price slash of 56.7 percent, after a three-month negotiation between the government and domestic and foreign pharmaceutical companies.
When explaining how patients gain from the new policy, Li Lin, an oncology doctor at Beijing Hospital, told the newspaper that a patient with lung cancer under targeted therapies used to pay more than 50,000 yuan (about 7,460 U.S. dollars) every month for the medicines.
"Now, the total cost is down to about 15,000 yuan since the hospital buys from the supplier at a government-negotiated price. Covered by the insurance scheme, the patient only needs to pay about 3,000 to 4,600 yuan after reimbursement," Li said.
The country saw a soaring clinic use of the drugs during the last few months. By the end of last year, hospitals and pharmacies purchased 1.84 million doses of cancer medicines at the lower prices reached by the government with suppliers, according to the National Healthcare Security Administration.
They paid 562 million yuan for the medicines, 918 million yuan less than if the medicines were sold at the price set before the government-suppliers negotiations, and a total of 44,600 patients were reimbursed 256 million yuan from the medical insurance fund for the drugs.
"The supply of these cancer drugs is sufficient," said Zhang Yi, director of the thoracic surgery department in the Beijing-based Xuanwu Hospital affiliated to Capital Medical University.
Although the policy only took effect four months ago and many hospitals have yet to list them in their routine medicine reserve, the hospitals opened temporary fast-track channels to purchase them from suppliers.