Prescriptions of anticancer medicines jumped during the first 10 months this year, government data showed.
According to data from the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service (HIRA), prescriptions of antineoplastic agents under Code 421 amounted to 1.44 trillion won ($1.28 billion) between January and October, up by 40.3 billion won from 1.39 trillion won a year earlier.
Prescriptions of “other hormones including anti-hormones” also increased significantly by 8.2 billion won during the cited period, followed by 2.9 billion won expansion in prescriptions of anticoagulants.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it approved 50 antineoplastic agents for seven years from 2011 and 2017 which took up 24 percent of all the authorized medicines.
The number of approval for anticancer drugs surged from five in 2015 to 14 in 2016 and 11 in 2017. However, the number is relatively small, compared to those approved in the U.S., observers said.
“Compared to the U.S., Korea has a small number of anticancer treatments, which account for a small share among all drugs,” the National OncoVenture (NOV), a government-funded oncology drug development program operator, said in a report.
NOV noted that Korean patients lacked access to anticancer drugs because many novel anticancer treatments available in foreign countries have not arrived in Korea. “In 2016 and 2017, none of the locally-developed anticancer drugs were approved. As most of the anticancer therapies are imported, Korea excessively relies on foreign anticancer drugs,” it said.
Hypertension drugs and agents for atherosclerosis, which had increased in prescriptions in recent years, plunged in the 10 months year on year.
Prescriptions of other chemotherapy drugs had the steepest fall by 138.9 billion won in the first 10 months from a year earlier, followed by blood pressure lowering drugs with a 118.4 billion won decline, agents for Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria with a 96.7 billion won decrease, and atherosclerosis drugs, down 90.5 billion won.