Will Paxlovid’s failure to enter China’s medical insurance directory affect people’s COVID treatment?
Published: Jan 12, 2023 12:04 AM
Paxlovid Photo: VCG

Paxlovid Photo: VCG

An official from China's national healthcare security authority said Pfizer's Paxlovid failed to make it into China's national medical insurance directory because of the drug's overly high price and assured the public that the authority will do its utmost to make sure the COVID treatment expenses are properly covered.

The National Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA) has always attached great importance to the security of medicine used to treat COVID-19 and formulated two healthcare security policies in 2021. With the timely following up of diagnosis and treatment plans for COVID-19, the scope of medicines eligible for medical insurance has been adjusted, Huang Xinyu, an official from the NHSA, said during a press briefing of the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism on Wednesday. 

According to Huang, the use of drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 has been the focus of the bureau's concern. A total of three medicines used for COVID-19 treatment were included in the negotiation for the national medical insurance program in 2022 including Pfizer's Paxlovid which regrettably failed to make it onto the list of medicines covered by China's basic medical insurance plans because of its high price. 

However, the other two medicines including China's domestically formulated oral anti-COVID-19 drug Azvudine and traditional Chinese medicine Qingfei Paidu Formula are both included on the list, Huang said. 

Huang assured the public not to worry too much since the NHSA issued a notice last week extending the temporary payment by medical insurance for listed drugs in the diagnosis and treatment plan until March 31, 2023. During this period, the continued use of medicine covered by the program will not be affected. 

Moreover, there are more than 600 medicines for the treatment of diseases such as cold and fever in the list of medical insurance, providing eligible patients with a wide choice of treatments.

Meanwhile, the NHSA is closely monitoring the development of COVID-19 treatments. According to Huang, a number of new drugs for COVID-19 treatment have been declared ready for market use. 

With the increase of new drugs on the market, patients' choice of medicines and the level of confidence will be further improved, Huang said, noting that the NHSA will keep an eye on the price levels of COVID-19 medicines with monitoring and management, ensuring the security of COVID-19 treatments and reducing the burden on patients. 

Global Times