VAT cut on ‘orphan drugs’ will lift healthcare burden, but many still struggle to afford medication

Global Times

24 March 2019 - China has reduced value-added tax (VAT) by 3% on 21 orphan drugs and four active pharmaceutical ingredients starting March 1.

Thirteen-year-old Han Shuo is one of the estimated 20 million people suffering from a rare disease in China. Born with Gaucher disease, a genetic condition, she needs up to five injections a month, but often her family can't afford to buy them all.

Because diseases like Han Shuo's affect a small number of the population, pharmaceutical companies, in China and abroad, have little incentive to develop drugs for these conditions, unless there is government backing. Referred to as "orphan drugs," even when they are developed, sometimes they are not covered by insurance or they are too expensive for patients.

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Michael Wonder

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Michael Wonder