Eliquis price cut delayed amid prolonged administrative suit

Kim Yun-mi  Published 2020.01.07  11:32  Updated 2020.01.07 11:32


The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s order in June to cut the price of BMS Korea Pharmaceutical’s blood thinner Eliquis (ingredient: apixaban) has been suspended for the seventh month because the company kept filing an administrative suit against the government.

The health and welfare ministry said on Friday the effectiveness of the price cut notice, announced as of June 24, 2019, has been suspended due to the Seoul High Court’s decision.

BMS Korea can maintain Eliquis’ price ceiling at the current level for 30 days from the day of the Seoul High Court’s verdict.

BMS Korea’s suit began after the ministry notified that it would reduce the price of Eliquis by 30 percent as of last July 1, as generic copies of Eliquis became reimbursable due to the expiration of the original drug’s patent. The company immediately filed a suit with the Seoul Administrative Court to nullify the ministry’s order to lower the drug price. The court accepted the request, ordering a suspension of the price cut during the administrative suit.

However, the court ruled on Dec. 31 that the health and welfare ministry’s order was legitimate, and BMS Korea lost the suit.

Just one day after the ruling, BMS Korea appealed to the Seoul High Court again and requested a halt of the administrative order of the price reduction.

The court accepted the company’s request and ordered the ministry on Friday to suspend the execution of the Eliquis price cut. This allowed BMS Korea to delay the price cut of Eliquis for seven months.

According to U-BIST data, Eliquis’ outpatient prescription sales recorded 33.2 billion won ($28.4 million) in 2018, and nearly 20 billion won in the first half of 2019.

Although Eliquis sales inched down due to generic copies’ arrival in the market, BMS Korea would have saved several billions of won by delaying the price cut in the past six months, observers said.

Even if BMS Korea loses the administrative suit, the government cannot demand the drugmaker pay the amount that would have been retrieved if the drug price had been cut because of the court’s order to suspend the administrative action.

Industry officials raised concerns that an original drug company’s administrative suit to nullify the price ceiling of the original drug could worsen the government’s rising healthcare costs.

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