45 orphan drugs included in national medical insurance catalog

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To date, 45 kinds of orphan drugs have been included in China's national medical insurance catalog, as the country ramps up efforts to increase drug affordability for patients of rare diseases.

These orphan drugs are used in the treatment of 26 rare diseases, according to data released at the ongoing 2022 China Conference on Rare Diseases in Beijing.

Since 2018, 19 new orphan drugs have been added to the national medical insurance catalog, with an average price reduction of 52.6 percent, said Huang Huabo, an official with the National Healthcare Security Administration, at the conference.

There are more than 20 million patients with various types of rare diseases in China, with the number increasing by over 200,000 yearly, data shows.

These patients have received growing attention from society in recent years, with Chinese authorities devoting great energy to supporting the prevention and treatment of rare diseases, strengthening research and development (R&D) and supplies of related drugs, and improving the medical insurance system.

So far, more than 60 kinds of orphan drugs have been approved for entry into the market, said Huang Guo, deputy director of the National Medical Products Administration.

Rare diseases pose serious public health problems around the world. According to Qiao Jie, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, over 7,000 rare diseases have been discovered around the globe, of which about 80 percent are hereditary.

For patients suffering from rare diseases, having access to medicines is the top priority. China has taken a series of measures, such as establishing an orphan-drug supply monitoring mechanism, improving the R&D and industrialization of orphan drugs, and supporting traditional Chinese medicine in playing a role in this regard, to ensure the availability of orphan drugs.

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