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Two drugs, including Prozac, to be withdrawn from Taiwan market

2019/03/20 21:25:59

TPMA Chairman Su Tung-mao (蘇東茂)

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Two types of medication, including the antidepressant Prozac, will be pulled from Taiwan's market next month, the Taiwan Pharmaceutical Manufacturer's Association (TPMA) said Wednesday.

The move comes after pharmaceutical manufacturers have been feeling the pinch of rising costs of raw materials, as well as reimbursement cuts for drugs covered by Taiwan's National Health Insurance system.

Prozac (also known by its generic name fluoxetine), an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), and Tienam, an antibiotic used in complicated infections, are to be withdrawn from Taiwan, according to TPMA.

Local pharmaceutical company Zuellig Pharma announced earlier this month that it will stop selling Prozac in Taiwan from April 1, citing rising costs of transport and raw materials and price cuts by the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA).

TPMA Chairman Su Tung-mao (蘇東茂) said Wednesday that the withdrawal of Prozac from Taiwan is not as serious as some have thought, pointing out that Taiwanese pharmaceutical firms also sell antidepressants using the same ingredients.

Prozac alternatives by other drug makers accounted for 70 percent of the domestic market but they received only 40 percent of reimbursement from the NHIA last year, with the other 60 percent going to the original Prozac manufacturer, Su said.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Pharmaceutical Association said it has received notification from U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., stating that it will pull its Tienam for injection from Taiwan starting April 1, citing the same reasons.

Since 2018, the prices of several types of pharmaceutical raw materials have surged by over 40 percent, creating a financial burden on pharmaceutical companies, TPMA board member Liu Tzong-ling (劉宗玲) said.

The trend is expected to continue this year, Liu added.

In response, the NHIA said that reimbursed drug price adjustments are made based on market surveys and leave a 3 percent-5 percent profit margin for pharmaceutical suppliers, making it impossible for them to sustain losses.

(By Chang Ming-hsun and Evelyn Kao)