Newly approved cancer drugs need at least 601 days to receive insurance benefits in Korea, more than double the time required in member countries of the OECD on average, an expert said.
Kim Bong-seok, a professor at Seoul Bohun Hospital’s hemato-oncology division, said while Korea needs 601 days to get newly approved cancer drugs covered by insurance, the 35 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development require 245 days on average. His comments came at the 64thh Cancer Conquering Forum at the National Assembly’s library on Wednesday.
In Germany, for example, new cancer drugs need 70 days to be registered as insured drugs, Kim said, adding that in Japan, it takes 74 days and in the U.S., it takes 180 days.
Kim noted that the reason it takes so long in Korea is the regulators’ evaluation and negotiations over the drug price take a long time. If a drugmaker applies for sales approval to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, it has to go through the ministry’s economic evaluation on the drug and price negotiations. It takes 757 days from the request for sales approval to get the insurance benefit.
Kim also pointed out that the proportion of insurance-covered drugs among the newly approved cancer drugs is too small in Korea.
While the OECD covered 62 percent of newly approved cancer drugs by insurance from 2009 to 2014 on average, Korea’s coverage was at a meager 29 percent.
“The biggest problem is that many cancer patients become so-called ‘medical poor,’ because insurance cannot cover their anti-cancer treatments,” Kim said. “To get many new cancer drugs to be covered by insurance as soon as possible, the government should consider exempting new cancer drugs from economic evaluations and linking them with the risk-sharing schemes.”
<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>