Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Groups call for better drug pricing

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Concerned groups yesterday called for a more reasonable prices for both patented and generic drugs.

"On average, pharmaceutical companies spend US$800 million developing an innovative drug before putting it on the market and they have only eight years to make a profit out of it [before generic versions are allowed]," said Hsieh Yen-yau (謝炎堯), vice president of Sun Yat-sen Cancer Center. "Generic drugs, on the other hand, can be sold at a cheaper price because they take less money and time to develop."

Hsieh said the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission and the Ministry of Audit should cooperate on setting price guidelines for drugs.

He also suggested the government take into consideration the prices of medicines abroad.

Hsieh said that both generic and patented drugs were necessary given the difficulty of raising national health insurance fees.

He emphasized, however, that the Bureau of Food and Drug Analysis must ensure that the ingredients in drugs have come from reliable sources.

He said that generic drugs must follow national standards to avoid problems.

Meanwhile, he proposed that patients be given the right to choose their own drugs as long as they are willing to pay the price difference between a generic and a more expensive brand-name drug.

Hsieh made the statement at a press conference that was hosted by the Association of International Research-Based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.

The association also released results of a study by Yeh Ching-yin (葉錦瑩), assistant professor of the public health department at Taipei Medical University.

The study involved a survey of 20 Taiwanese doctors who are leaders in medical associations, and reported that 85 percent said name-brand drugs were safer and more reliable.

Seventy percent said that they see treatment quality decline when they switch from prescribing name-brand drugs to generic ones.

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