AstraZeneca Korea and regulatory officials have finally agreed on the price of Tagrisso (ingredient: osimertinib), a treatment for patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-T790M mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer.
The National Health Insurance Service said Wednesday that it had completed the price talks with AstraZeneca at the NHIS headquarters after three sessions of negotiations. Following the agreement, Tagrisso will likely get insurance benefits as early as next month.
In August, the NHIS’ drug price assessment committee evaluated Tagrisso as eligible for the insurance coverage. However, AstraZeneca and the government could not narrow a wide gap between their offered prices of Tagrisso in two sessions of negotiations.
The NHIS based its offered price for Tagrisso from another non-small cell lung cancer treatment Olita of Hanmi Pharm, which has the same efficacy with Tagrisso. However, AstraZeneca did not accept the offered price, saying it was too cheap.
AstraZeneca said it was unreasonable to compare Tagrisso with Olita. Tagrisso’s efficacy and safety were proved through a global phase-3 clinical trial whereas Olita went through only a phase-2 clinical trial and received conditional approval from the authorities, according to AstraZeneca.
Due to a clear difference between the government’s stance and that of the drugmaker, some observers said the company gave up on Tagrisso’s insurance benefit, and lawmakers raised a suspicion that the NHIS might have been giving favor to the drugmaker by prolonging the price negotiations.
In response to the raised suspicion, the NHIS clarified that it was AstraZeneca that requested the extension of price negotiations and the price talks went through due procedures based on the government’s official guidelines for drug price negotiations. The two sides resumed the third negotiations on Oct. 19.
With the price talks completed, Tagrisso is scheduled to receive insurance benefits after the assessment of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s committee for national health insurance policy review.
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