(Yicai Global) April 13 -- China will stop requiring import duty on cancer drugs, including traditional Chinese remedies, from May 1 as it looks to combat a rising number of patients suffering the disease.
Anticancer medicines will also be eligible for substantially reduced value-added tax rates, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at an executive meeting of the State Council, China’s cabinet, yesterday.
The government will eliminate all unjustified surcharges and other additional costs through such measures as centralized government procurement and the inclusion of innovative drugs, especially urgently-needed cancer medicines, in the list of products covered by the national public medical insurance program and e-commerce, which will slash prices of in-demand cancer drugs.
The decision had been widely anticipated after Li said following the first session of the National People’s Congress, the country’s national legislature, that China would reregulate foreign trade in goods and eliminate tariffs for cancer medicines.
Cancer mortality has soared by 80 percent in China over the past three decades, according to a Beijing Business Today report. On average, 2.6 million people are diagnosed with the disease every year, and 1.8 million die, and these figures could almost double by 2030, the International Agency for Research on Cancer forecast.
“Some home-grown companies have made their own cancer treatments,” the local newspaper quoted medical expert Zhao Heng as saying. “But given their smaller number, the zero-duty policy will not have a major impact on the existing landscape in the domestic market.”
Pharmaceutical research and development is improving in China, but still lags in comparison to more advanced countries. United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca Plc sold USD611 million worth of Iressa, a lung cancer medication, in 2012, and 21.6 percent of revenue was generated in China.
Editor: James Boynton