Cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific – Introduction

Hofmarcher T, Keel G, Lindgren P

In the coming weeks, IHE will publish a report series on cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific. This week’s publication provides the introduction (IHE Report 2021:3a) and the executive summary, ending with a call-to-action (IHE Report 2021:3b).

This report explores the state of cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific. 14 countries and locations, referred to as “markets” in the report, are included in the analysis. They are grouped into 7 high-income markets (Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) and 7 middle-income markets (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam).

The report provides a comparative analysis of the 14 markets. It is divided into five sub-reports focusing on:

1. The burden of cancer: It shows that cancer patient numbers have been growing steadily in recent years along with the incoming silver tsunami. While more and more patients survive cancer in high-income markets, patient outcomes in middle-income markets are at best stagnating.

2. Health spending on cancer care: It shows that most markets miss the informal WHO target of public health spending of 5% of GDP. Cancer accounts for 5-9% of total health spending in high-income markets and only 1-2% (excl. out-of-pocket payments) in some middle-income markets.

3. Patient access to innovative cancer drugs: It shows that there is a big gap between the number of innovative drugs with regulatory approval and those with reimbursement approval. Almost 1 million patient life years are lost for every year of delay in reimbursement of 10 innovative cancer drug-indications across the markets.

4. Health spending on cancer drugs and unmet patient needs: Total health spending on cancer drugs ranges from $30 to $90 per capita in high-income markets and from $0.2 to $6.6 in middle-income markets (based on list prices). Despite higher spending on innovative cancer drugs, even high-income markets may struggle to meet patient needs.

5. Pricing policies for off-patent cancer drugs: Pricing policies for off-patent cancer drugs are not fully effective in many markets. Effective pricing policies for off-patent cancer drugs could free up substantial resources for re-investment in new innovative cancer drugs.

The report was funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD). Responsibility for the analysis, interpretations, and conclusions, as well as errors or omissions lies solely with the authors.

For more information, please contact Thomas Hofmarcher

Download the report

IHE Report 2021:3a, IHE: Lund, Sweden