Two COVID Drugs Added to China’s Public Health Insurance Scheme

A final list of drugs to be included in China’s public health insurance scheme was released on January 18. During a press conference, China’s Healthcare Security Administration said that a total of 111 drugs had been added to the catalogue, and that three drugs had been dropped. There are now 2,967 kinds of drugs in the scheme.

The four-day negotiations between Chinese regulators and pharmaceutical companies from January 5 to January 8 were fruitful. The average price of newly admitted drugs through negotiation and bidding has dropped by 60.1%. It is estimated that this adjustment will reduce the burden on patients by over 90 billion yuan ($13.28 billion) in the next two years. This is the third year that COVID-19 drugs have been taken into the medical insurance catalogue. Earlier, China’s Medical Products Administration announced on January 8 that Azvudine and Qingfei Paidu granules had entered the health insurance scheme.

Azvudine, which was approved for release on July 25, 2022, will be sold at a price of 11.58 yuan per 3mg. The drug is divided into two specifications: 1mg and 3mg, and only 1mg is approved for the treatment of ordinary adult patients with COVID-19. The main reason is that the recommended dose for treating COVID-19 is 5mg for adult patients. In order to ensure the dosage, Azvudine’s instructions state that tablets should not be crushed.

Azvudine (Source: Genuine Biotech)

Liu Yong, the vice president of Genuine Biotech, the developer of Azvudine, once pointed out that the indications for the treatment of Azvudine in COVID-19 were approved in July last year. The negotiation in January this year only involves the indications for the treatment of AIDS. “Although we are here to talk about the indications for AIDS this time, because the drug involves the COVID-19 treatment, the negotiation result will also affect the future pricing,” said Liu.

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Previously, Azvudine was temporarily included in the scope of medical insurance payment at the price of 270 yuan per bottle (35 tablets per bottle, 1mg per tablet). After conversion, the price per milligram of the drug is 7.71 yuan. After this medical insurance negotiation, the price per milligram is 3.86 yuan, which is reduced by about 50%.

Another COVID-19 drug, Qingfei Paidu, is a widely used traditional Chinese medicine, which was listed through emergency approval on March 2, 2021, and its production unit was Zhangzhou Pien Tze Huang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Unlike other drugs, Qingfei Paidu granule is the transformation of effective prescriptions screened by many academicians and experts in Wuhan, Huabei Province, the first place that was hit by COVID-19 back in 2020.