TOKYO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - 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 drug Sovaldi.
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