China says talks to include Paxlovid in its drug list have failed

BEIJING, Jan 8 (Reuters) – China will exclude Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) Paxlovid in an update to its list of drugs included in medical insurance programs as the American company cited a higher price for the drug COVID-19, China’s Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA) said on Sunday .

The COVID-19 antiviral drug is now covered by the country’s public health insurance program under the temporary measures introduced by the director in March last year as the disease increased.

But the management held talks with Pfizer in recent days to decide whether to include it in the latest version of their list, which they update every year.

Inclusion on the list means that a drug can be obtained through state insurance programs, which will increase the amount but comes with a stop. terms to reduce costs by manufacturers. In the previous rounds, the drug makers saw prices reduced by up to 62% after negotiations with officials.

“We will continue to work with the Chinese government and all relevant partners to ensure sufficient supply of Paxlovid in China. We remain committed to meeting the COVID-19 treatment needs of Chinese patients,” the Pfizer said in a statement, without elaborating.

The NHSA said that Paxlovid will continue to be eligible to be paid by the state medical insurance until the end date planned in the temporary period of March 31.

Although the negotiations on Paxlovid failed, they succeeded in two other drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 – Qingfei Paidu granules and the Chinese drug Genuine Biotech’s Azvudine – which will be included in the renewal of the list, said the regulator.

Three years after the outbreak, China began moving away from its signature “zero COVID” policy last month after historic protests against economic damage that was backed by the President Xi Jinping.

The sudden opening of restrictions has caused many infections and prompted many to turn underground to buy solutions such as Paxlovid, which has been found in a clinical trial to reduce hospitalizations in people Disease risk is about 90%.

Boxes of Paxlovid are changing hands for 50,000 yuan ($7,313.15), more than 20 times the original price of 2,300 yuan, according to local media reports and social media.

Beijing has been largely opposed to Western vaccines, but it has given light to foreign treatments Paxlovid and Merck’s. (MRK.N) Molnupiravir. Paxlovid was approved in February.

Reuters reported on Saturday, citing sources, that China is in talks with Pfizer to secure a license that would allow the domestic drugmaker to manufacture and distribute a General version of Paxlovid.

Last month, China Meheco Group Co Ltd acquired (600056.SS) said Wednesday it signed an agreement with Pfizer to import and distribute Paxlovid in mainland China.

Pfizer also signed a deal in August for Chinese drugmaker Zhejiang Huahai (600521.SS) Paxlovid is manufactured in mainland China only for patients there.

($1 = 6.8370 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Brenda Goh, Yingzhi Yang and Roxanne Liu; Edited by Raissa Kasolowsky, Elaine Hardcastle and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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