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Taiwan's novel pharma products hit by low reimbursement prices

The low rates are discouraging the launch of new innovative products, insiders say.

While innovation is recognised in Taiwan, novel pharmaceutical products in the country will continue to see constraints to their growth prospects, due to the impact of the insurance system on drug prices, especially for new and innovative medicines, according to Fitch Solutions.

Taiwan has raised its health insurance premiums from 4.69% to 5.17% and supplemental premiums from 1.91% to 2.11%, informed by a rise in elderly population. Between 2000 and February 2021, the percentage of the population over 65 nearly doubled from just under 9% to 16% while the proportion of 0-14 year olds nearly halved from 21% to 12.5%.

Still, the report noted that reimbursement prices in the country tend to be much lower than in OECD countries because of the government’s single-payer status, and the hospitals typically negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for discounts. This discourages the launch of new innovative products in Taiwan.

For instance, two medications recently left the market. A pharma company announced that it will stop selling the antidepressant Prozac as of April 2019, whilst another ceased providing the antibiotic Tienam.

“Another impact of the low reimbursement prices is that new drugs tend to be launched in Taiwan much later than certain other markets,” the report added.
 

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