The domestic pharmaceutical companies’ plans to release the salt-altering products of chronic hepatitis B therapy Viread, whose annual prescription reaches about 150 billion won ($132 million), have hit a snag. Some of them voluntarily reduced the prices of drugs scheduled for release in October, but their registered prices will likely drop to half the level after a month.
Because of different strategies among companies to avoid the patient, their approved marketing times have also become different.
Drugmakers hastily readjusted their drug prices, but are concerned about similar situation repeating in the future.
The substance patent and the composite patent of Viread will expire on Nov. 11 and on Nov. 7, 2018, respectively.
Korean drugmakers needed preferential sales right to preempt the market. Some of them nullified the substance patent through the invalidation trial and avoided the composite patent with the salt-altering strategy.
They are Hanmi Pharm한미약품, Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical종근당, Dong-A ST동아ST, Daewoong Pharmaceutical대웅제약, Boryung Pharm보령제약, Dongkook Pharm동국제약, Samjin Pharm삼진제약, SCD Pharm삼천당제약 ,Samil Pharm삼일제약 and Han Wha Pharm한화제약.
They could sell the drug from Aug. 26 and will release it on Oct. 1 after registering their drug prices.
Some of them opted to avoid the duration period.
Hunos휴온스, Mother’s pharmaceutical마더스제약, Jeil Pharmaceutical제일약품, Kukje Pharma국제약품, Handok한독, Hutecs Korea Pharmaceutical한국휴텍스제약 got the preferential rights at the different time. They will be applied by preferential sales rights from Nov. 10, and register their drug prices in November.
The problem is because the registration of drug prices of some products without salt was one month behind time, the drug prices of the products registered earlier will decrease further. It’s like the registration of generics pulling down drug prices.
Most of the products to be registered in October lowered their prices by 50-55 percent, and if they are registered one month later, the prices will be cut to half of the registered prices.
Drugmakers have reportedly readjusted their product prices upward and reapplied the registration in a hurry.
Salt-altering products can fetch prices up to 90 percent of original product prices, but some drugmakers lowered their prices voluntarily because they thought it would be impossible to preempt the market with prices only 10 percent lower price than Viread’s.
“The government can save budget because of the price undercutting competition, but drugmakers lose any incentives to jump into the market with low prices. They will either not lower drug prices or minimize the price cuts. It there isn't much difference in the drug prices of original drugs and salt-altering therapies, the use of original drugs won’t decrease, which causes the cut in budget saving,” an industry executive said.
But the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW)복지부 said it applies current rules, and there isn’t a problem in the system because the pharmaceuticals voluntarily cut the price.
“The current system stipulates price should decrease to 53.55 percent if other drugs are registered. We can’t ask drugmakers to accept a rule that they cannot, and think they will set drug prices at the level that they can take,” a ministry official said.
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