TOKYO Dec 19 The Japanese government plans to
start reviewing drug prices every year, instead of every two
years, in a bid to reduce mounting healthcare costs, government
officials with direct knowledge of the decision said on Monday.
It will also review all drug prescription prices instead of
limiting its list to pharmaceuticals judged to be far more
expensive than their overseas counterparts.
The current system has been criticised as keeping drug
prices unnecessarily high in Japan.
The move follows last month's decision to halve the price of
cancer drug Opdivo, developed by Bristol Myers Squibb Co's
and Ono Pharmaceutical Co and an earlier move
to slash the price of Gilead Science Inc's hepatitis C
Four cabinet members including Chief Cabinet Secretary
Yoshihide Suga and Health Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki will make a
formal decision on Tuesday, the sources said, declining to be
identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
The decision reflects proposals made by Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe's economic advisers. The move is opposed by foreign
and domestic drug makers who have said the changes will crimp
revenue and reduce incentives to innovate.
(Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Writing by Junko Fujita; Editing
by William Mallard and Edwina Gibbs)