Health spending on cancer drugs and unmet patient needs in Asia-Pacific

Hofmarcher T, Keel G, Lindgren P

This is the fourth sub-report of the main report “Cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific”. It describes health spending on cancer drugs and unmet patient needs in 14 countries and locations (called “markets” in the report) in Asia-Pacific. 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 sub-report provides a comparative analysis of the 14 markets. The main findings are:

1. High-income markets spent around 10-20% of total pharmaceutical expenditure – financed via public and private sources – on cancer drugs in 2019, whereas middle-income markets spent around 1-9%.

2. Japan spent the most on cancer drugs per capita with over $90 in 2019, and South Korea spent the least among high-income markets with around $30 per capita. In middle-income markets, per capita spending levels ranged from a mere $0.2 in India to $6.6 in Thailand.

3. Higher use of innovative drugs with much better patient accessibility via reimbursement also contributes to the differences explain some of the vast differences across Asia-Pacific. Higher list prices of drugs and higher numbers of cancer patients in high-income markets are further explanations for the differences.

4. Despite securing national reimbursement, patient access to the specific treatment might not necessarily be guaranteed. Australia and Japan are only able to meet half of the patient needs in non-small cell lung cancer after reimbursement of immuno-chemotherapy. In middle-income markets with no reimbursement, less than 10% of patient needs are met.

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.

Previously published IHE Reports on cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific:

Cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific – Introduction
IHE Report 2021:3a, IHE: Lund, Sweden

Cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific – Executive summary
IHE Report 2021:3b, IHE: Lund, Sweden

The burden of cancer in Asia-Pacific
IHE Report 2021:3c, IHE: Lund, Sweden

Health spending on cancer in Asia-Pacific
IHE Report 2021:3d, IHE: Lund, Sweden

Patient access to innovative cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific
IHE Report 2021:3e, IHE: Lund, Sweden

For more information, please contact Thomas Hofmarcher

Download the report

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