The government has allowed choline alfoscerate, a dementia drug, to continue to receive the national health insurance benefit only for the secondary symptoms caused by cerebrovascular defects. The announcement came after the government’s reassessment of the drug’s reimbursement.
It also allowed Bavencio (avelumab), a newly authorized drug for metastatic Merkel-cell carcinoma, to be reimbursable.
The Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA) said it held the sixth meeting of the Health Insurance Drug Reimbursement Committee and released the decision on the two medicines on Thursday.
The review committee concluded that Merck’s Bavencio was valid for reimbursement.
However, 128 choline alfoscerate-containing drugs would be reimbursable only for effect on limited symptoms incurred by dementia, the review committee said.
Upon the decision, choline alfoscerate gets reimbursement for secondary symptoms from cerebrovascular defects and degenerative organic brain syndrome such as poor memory, direction sensation disorder due to lack of motivation, and decreased concentration.
However, the medicine will not get the insurance benefit for symptoms, including emotional and behavioral changes, anxiety, irritability, indifference by people around, and masked depression of the elderly. In this case, choline alfoscerate will get a “selected reimbursement” where the patient pays 80 percent of the cost.
Earlier, the ministry had cited the reasons for the reevaluation of choline alfoscerate as following: the insurance claims have recently increased significantly; no other country grants reimbursement as the drug is used as a health functional food, and the treatment lacked clinical evidence.
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