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Novel therapeutics, medical devices do not necessarily tie with NHI coverage: Pan-Chyr Yang, VP of IBMI

Source in Chinese: Commercial Times

Dr. Pan-Chyr Yang, a member of Bio Taiwan Committee (BTC) and vice president of IBMI, pointed out at a BTC conference that Taiwan's health insurance accounts for only 6.2% of GDP, lower than Korea's 8% and Japan's 11%, and should be raised to at least equal to Korea. In order to support the development of the biomedical industry and increase its competitiveness globally, reimbursement for new drugs, digital health and breakthrough medical devices shall be detached from the national health insurance (NHI) and classification of generic drugs shall be imposed.  

Dr. Chung-Liang Shih, Director General who heads NHI, said that if health insurance accounted for 8% of the GDP, it would require an additional budget of more than NT$300 billion, which is difficult to achieve given the current stage of health insurance funding. It is necessary for the Executive Yuan to co-ordinate the allocation of resources.

Yang suggested that all novel medical technologies and therapeutics should not be charged to NHI. Medical products approved to market ought to find ways to be paid out-of-pocket, health insurance plans or other sources. In addition to hoping that the ratio of NHI to GDP can be increased to 8%, he also advocated that homegrown generic drugs should be classified to encourage the sale of those drugs abroad.

Dr. Lee-Cheng Liu, chairman and general manager of EirGenix, also believes that the pressure of drug prices should not shouldered by NHI. In order to save on NHI expenses, it is suggested to first select 2 to 3 high-priced drugs on a trial basis and encourage the use of homemade biosimilars or generic drugs through policies, and then expand the number of drugs accordingly if the adoption is improved, and the saved NHI expenses can also be used for the development of new drugs in the future.

As for the development of CDMOs, Liu shared that the system of extending the patent period of pharmaceutical products in Taiwan post challenges for pharmaceutical companies and CDMOs to develop business overseas, and that the system has done drug makers in harm’s way, and suggested that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and TFDA should discuss this issue.

Dr. Fu-Shun Hsu, who oversees the development of Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, said that even if some medical devices have been cleared and adopted by hospitals on a self-pay basis, they still face restrictions under the Health Insurance Law and the Medical Care Law, and there is not yet a legal and compliant payment method in the country, so how they can be made accessible to healthcare providers and patients is still a challenge for the development of novel medical devices.

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