Forum: Drug suppliers can play a role in keeping cancer treatments affordable

We refer to Mr How Ti Hwei's letter, "MediShield Life changes may lead to some trade-offs in cancer care" (Sept 2).

From September next year, patients will pay less for clinically proven and cost-effective cancer drug treatments. This is achieved through the MediShield Life changes which have strengthened our ability to negotiate with drug suppliers for better drug prices, and the Government's extension of subsidies to more cancer drugs and more patients.

However, not all drug suppliers have been willing to offer fairer prices that are commensurate with the health benefits that the drugs offer. Their prices remain higher than in other countries.

While MediShield Life will continue to cover some of these non- cost-effective treatments, they will remain unsubsidised.

We urge drug suppliers to lower their prices to cost-effective levels, so that together, we can keep cancer drug treatments affordable and sustainable for Singaporeans.

Patients who are on these treatments may wish to discuss with their doctors switching to alternative treatments which will be covered by subsidies and MediShield Life, should prices remain non-cost-effective.

The small proportion of patients who are unable to switch due to special circumstances may approach medical social workers for financial assistance if they face difficulty in affording their treatments.

Cham Dao Song

Director (Finance Policy)

Healthcare Finance Division

Ministry of Health

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