New cancer drugs to be covered by National Health Insurance

Taipei,  Several new drugs for the treatment of three types of cancer have been approved for inclusion in the National Health Insurance (NHI) program, which is expected to reduce the financial burden on some 1,000 patients per year and increase their life expectancy, Taiwan’s government said Tuesday.

In a press release, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said it had decided in an Oct. 15 meeting that new medicines for breast cancer, late-stage gastric cancer and childhood leukemia would be covered by the program, starting in December.

Among the drugs listed is trastuzumab emtansine, a targeted therapy to improve life expectancy for patients suffering from HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, Huang Chao-chieh (黃兆杰), deputy chief of the NHIA’s Medical Review and Pharmaceutical Benefits Division, told CNA.

According to the NHIA, the drug is expected to benefit 317 to 543 patients over a period of five years.

The NHIA has also decided to extend coverage to two medicines used to treat advanced stages of gastric cancer, which is the 9th most common cancer type in Taiwan.

The two drugs — Oxaliplatin, used as a chemotherapy drug for gastric cancer, and the third-line treatment trifluridine/tipiracil — will improve care options for an estimated 800 people per year, according to Huang.

Meanwhile, the cost of blinatumomab, which is used to treat two rare forms of pediatric leukemia, will also be covered by the NHI and is expected to benefit about 11 patients annually, Huang said.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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