SEOUL, April 20 (Korea Bizwire) – As it is expected that Pfizer’s Xalkori cancer drug will be covered by the national health insurance in Korea, the 10 million won (US$9,225) burden that patients are currently facing will be dramatically reduced starting next month.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Health Insurance Service on April 18, the two finally agreed to the price of Xalkori covered by the national health insurance. The government will report the agreement to the Health Insurance Policy Deliberation Committee on April 29, and if the committee passes it, the government will list Xalkori on its list of insured drugs, and will offer insurance coverage for the drug.
The two sides decided to offer one capsule of Xakori for 124,000 won (US$114.4), 10,000 won less than the price Pfizer was hoping for. In addition, the national insurance service will adopt the risk apportionment system of the drug, receiving a portion of revenues from Pfizer for selling the drug instead of offering coverage for the drug.
The risk apportionment system helps to share the burden of new high-cost drugs, helping the drug maker receive a high price while also limiting national health insurance expenditures.
Currently, Xalkori is not covered under the national health insurance and costs approximately 160,000 won per a capsule. Lung cancer patients have to take two capsules a day, which means it can cost up to 9,600,000 won a month.
Korea’s national health insurance system covers 95 percent of the cost for cancer treatment drugs, and patients only need to pay the remaining five percent. Accordingly, lung cancer patients only pay 370,000 won a month, dramatically reducing their burden from almost 10 million won to 370,000 won.
Xalkori, also known as crizotinib, is an ALK inhibitor and has proven to be efficient in reducing the size of tumors in lung cancer patients with a rare genetic mutation.
According to a clinical test conducted by Professor Kim Dong-wan at Seoul National University Hospital, Xalkori extends the progression-free survival (PFS) of lung cancer patients by eight months and raises their quality of life by improving their physical and mental functions.
The Xalkori coverage will benefit about 400 ALK positive non-small cell lung cancer patients in Korea.
By John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)