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New NHI system will aid drug development in Taiwan: minister

2012/08/31 19:20:03

Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) The second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI) program, scheduled to be implemented next year, will encourage domestic drug development by offering companies good prices for newly developed medicines, said Minister without Portfolio Chang San-cheng Friday.

Through the new program, the government will assist drug research and development in Taiwan by offering newly developed drugs the same price to similar drugs on the international market, Chang said.

The drug pricing mechanism in the second-generation NHI will introduce volume controls on drugs in order to regulate amounts made available, which will enable more effective price structuring, Chang explained.

In the current system, there are no volume controls, which has resulted in mass sales of drugs but low profits due to a flooded market, Chang addded.

To further promote the development of domestic drugs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has sent a draft of the Act for the Development of Biotech and New Pharmaceuticals Industry to the Legislature for consideration, but the review process requires more time for issues to be comprehensively addressed, Chang said.

The minister remarks were in response to recent comments made by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, founder of the Institute for Biotechnology and Medicine Industry (IBMI), who called for stronger government support for the industry.

On Thursday, a Chinese-language news report by the United Daily News cited Wang as saying at a medical forum in June that IBMI members had expressed concerns that the Taiwan Medtech Fund had reached a bottleneck due to complicated legal restrictions and was hindering the advancement of Taiwan's burgeoning biotech industry.

The fund, Taiwan's first biotech venture capital fund, was set up in August 2011 to stimulate the biotech industry.

According to IBMI CEO Wu Ming-fa, over 80 newly developed drugs in Taiwan are in the clinical trail phase, and around 8 of these drugs are undergoing tests by the Food and Drug Administration and will be on the market by 2013, the report added.

(By Hsieh Chiachen and C.J. Lin)