UPDATE : Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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4 drugs gain insurance coverage this month
  • By Marian Chu
  • Approval 2017.12.01 17:54
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Four pharmaceuticals said Friday their drugs would gain national coverage, granted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, starting this month. The drugs, in alphabetical order, are Takeda’s EDARBI, Celgene’s Revlimid, MSD’s Singulair, and AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso.

1. Takeda snags ministry approval for hypertension drug

Takeda Korea said Friday the Ministry of Health and Welfare would reimburse EDARBI (azilsartan medoxomil potassium) for patients with no associated diseases and complications when used at a systolic blood pressure higher than 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90 mmHg.

A 40 mg tablet of EDARBI, an angiotensin II receptor blocker used to treat hypertension patients will cost 439 won, and an 80 mg tablet will cost 658 won, Takeda Korea said.

Takeda will work with Korean pharmaceutical Dong-A ST to sell the drug, with Takeda focusing on general hospitals and Dong-A in charge of hospitals and clinics, it said.

2. Celgene says ministry expanded coverage for multiple myeloma drug

The ministry has broadened reimbursement for Revlimid (lenalidomide) to be used as a first-line treatment for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients with no previous history of immunotherapy treatment and not eligible for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Celgene Korea said the therapy will now cost around 3.99 million won ($3,670) per month.

Patients with advanced or recurrent multiple myeloma who did not benefit from other treatment, not limited to just Velcade (bortezomib), will also benefit from coverage, the company said.

The health-welfare ministry had previously reimbursed REVLIMID only to those who did not benefit from bortezomib treatment, the standard of care.

Revlimid is used to treat multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, after stem cell transplant or in combination with another drug. The targeted oral anticancer drug inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells in multiple myeloma patients and blocks cytokines that affect tumor cell production, directly affecting the cancer cells, the company said.

3. MSD Korea gets expanded reimbursement for allergy treatment

MSD Korea will benefit from expanded coverage of its asthma prevention and allergy drug, Singulair, starting this month.

The ministry will reimburse the drug as a first-line treatment for allergic rhinitis, as an extension of previous coverage of the drug as a second-line therapy, the company said.

Patients that have nasal obstruction as the primary symptom and patients who cannot use nasal decongestants or nasal spray steroids will benefit from the extended coverage, the company added.

Each 10 mg tablet costs around 700 won, roughly translating into 20,000 per box with coverage, according to an MSD Korea official.

Reimbursement will apply to Singulair tablets, chewable and granules, the official said.

4. AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso finally gets insurance coverage

The drawn-out battle between the health authorities, drug developer AstraZeneca, and lung cancer patients have come to an end with the reimbursement of Astra’s non-small cell lung cancer treatment, to take effect starting this month.

NSCLC patients will now pay $312 per month starting next Tuesday – a 96.6 percent price cut from 10 million won a month.

AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso gained the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s approval in May as a third-generation targeted lung cancer therapy for patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-T790M mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer.

yjc@docdocdoc.co.kr

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