The government will resume price negotiations for contrast medium Lipiodol with Guerbet Korea.
As the shortage of the agent has caused delays in procedures for liver cancer patients, the government will make a decision as quickly as possible, officials said Wednesday.
The National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) said it received an order from the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Tuesday to begin drug pricing negotiations with Guerbet Korea within this week. The talks will take place two months after the Korean unit of the French drugmaker demanded a price hike.
On March 7, the pharmaceutical firm announced it would discontinue the supply of Lipiodol and demanded the drug’s price be lifted, citing a low price and a global supply shortage. On April 23, the company requested the authorities to guarantee the recovery of the production cost.
On May 31, the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service held a meeting of pharmaceutical reimbursement assessment committee to exclude Lipiodol from shortage-prevention drugs, to adjust the maximum price of Lipiodol. On June 8, the ministry’s health insurance policy review committee made a final decision to take out Lipiodol from the list of shortage-prevention drugs and put the delisting to notice on June 11.
“We have received the ministry’s order to begin drug pricing negotiations. Within this week, we will start the first session of talks right away. Due to the supply problem, we’re trying to do it as fast as we can,” said Lee Young-hee, head of the drug pricing department at the NHIS.
It took an unprecedentedly short time for the whole process, from the drug company’s applying for drug price adjustment to the review of the HIRA, and finally to the NHIS, she added.
The HIRA said it make an extra effort to resolve the shortage of Lipiodol as quickly as possible.
“As Lipiodol is an agent with no alternative, we tried to shorten the time as much as possible. One of the reasons for the demand of the Lipiodol price hike was China. Compared to China, Korea has a small market,” said Kang Hee-jeong, head of the drug management department at the HIRA, at a press conference.
Guerbet supplied about 60,000 bottles of Lipiodol in China, twice as many as those in Korea. Lipiodol costs about 300,000 won ($270.5) per bottle in China, six times higher than that in Korea.
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