Japan Panel Approves 50% Price Cut for Cancer Drug Opdivo (News)


Tokyo, Nov. 16 (Jiji Press)—Japan's Central Social Insurance Medical Council, a government advisory panel, on Wednesday approved the health ministry's plan to slash the price of Opdivo, an expensive cancer drug, by 50%.

The ministry will implement the price cut in February 2017, as an emergency measure ahead of the next biennial review of official drug prices slated for fiscal 2018, in order to curb a rise in medical expenses.

The public medical insurance coverage of Opdivo began in Japan in 2014, for skin cancer treatment. In December last year, Japan expanded the coverage to include lung cancer treatment.

The estimated annual number of users of the drug, which costs 35 million yen a year per person, therefore shot up from 470 to 15,000, sparking concerns about huge medical costs.

At first, the health ministry planned to lower the price by 25%, only to face calls from within the government for reducing more because in the United States and European countries, the drug is sold at less than half the price in Japan.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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