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A long-awaited emotional and financial boost for China’s cancer patients

By Chermaine Lee

Imagine this: if your beloved one was diagnosed of a fatal cancer, dealing with heartbreaks aside, you had to start borrowing money for the treatment. Taking a few more part-time jobs was barely enough to pay for the expensive drugs, not to mention the ever-growing debts.

Watching the hair of your loved one falling bit by bit each day in your teary eyes, you still had to worry about your financial situation. But you had to keep all these to yourself, since you didn’t want the patient to think he or she is a burden.

This is the likely scenario for many Chinese families with cancer patients. In the tear-jerking box-office hit earlier this year Dying to Survive, the main character smuggled cancer drugs from India to save the life of his own and his friends. This reflects the plight in the country. According to American Cancer Society, there were 4.3 million new cancer cases and over 2.8 million cancer deaths in China in 2015.

Last week, 17 anti-cancer drugs were added to China’s reimbursement list under the national medical insurance scheme, pushing down the prices of these otherwise costly drugs by over 50 percent on average.

As BioWorld reported last Friday (paywall), although experts have reservations about how much burden the new addition on the list can alleviate, this is at least a positive first step to resolve the issue.

Beijing is heading towards its initiative to cover 70% of medical cost by the end of this year, and providing affordable basic health care to all nationals by the end of 2020, under the Healthy 2020.

China’s pharmaceutical development is rapid, with two cancer drugs made in the country going on the cancer drug list with western’s pharma giant Merck, Novartis, Beigene, etc.

With the booming biosimilars market in the country, cancer drugs are likely to become more common, so the future of affordable cancer care looks promising to me. (paywall)

Last week also saw the International Day of the Girl Child. Women’s voices are heard more often these days than in the past, but more heed should still be paid to the group as they still have a lot more to say.

The first female chief executive in Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, highlighted her policies in bolstering female employment and safeguarding women’s interest in her remarks for the 2018 Policy Address. Maternity leaves will be extended to 14 days and school girls in the city will be offered free HPV vaccinations next year.

We also featured Asian Legal Business’ Women in Law 2018 in our #TBT (Throwback Thursday) post on social media to celebrate women empowerment.

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