Taipei: The new medicine Tagrisso for people with aggressive non small cell lung cancer could be covered by Taiwan's national health insurance (NHI) system as early as April to help patients with the high cost of the treatment, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) announced Tuesday.
On Feb. 20, the NHIA approved the inclusion of Tagrisso for NHI medication coverage for those suffering from metastatic non small cell lung cancer with certain types of abnormal EGFR genes, Deputy NHIA Director General Tsai Shu ling (???) told CNA.
EGFR is short for epidermal growth factor receptor, a protein found in certain types of cells that binds to a substance called epidermal growth factor, which is involved in cell signaling pathways that control cell division and survival.
Tsai said that Tagrisso, a third generation targeted therapy, provides better treatment than existing targeted therapies. "For patients who saw the failure of traditional targeted therapies, the new medicine, soon to be covered by the NHI, will be an extra option for them."
The NHIA is negotiating on price with AstraZeneca, the maker of Tagrisso, and it is expected that the NHI system will begin payments for the new medicine in April at the earliest, according to the administration.
Nearly 850 patients will benefit as soon as coverage is provided. Currently, those receiving the new Targisso therapy have to pay NT$110,000 (US$3,665) to NT$130,000 each month for the medicine under the pharmaceutical company's support program.
The cost would be much higher without the support program, according to the NHIA.
Tagrisso will be offered as a first line therapy for fourth stage lung adenocarcinoma patients with mutant EGFR and as a second line therapy for non small cell lung cancer patients for who first and second general EGFR targeted therapies fail, Tsai said.
In related news, the NHIA has also extended the NHI coverage period from one year to a maximum of two years for three immune checkpoint blockers used in cancer immunotherapy.
The medication can be used to treat eight kinds of cancer, including malignant melanoma, non small cell lung cancer, classical Hodgkin lymphoma, urothelial carcinoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, renal cell carcinoma, liver cancer and gastric cancer under certain conditions, such as when chemotherapy and targeted therapy prove ineffective.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel