China strives to lower cost of cancer drugs as disease rates soar

China is pushing domestic and overseas markets to lower the cost of cancer drugs to make them more accessible.

The country’s cancer rates have soared in recent years, caused by people succumbing to the disease due to heavy smoking, pollution and living to an older age, raising concerns about the prevalence of the disease.

Last year, the National Cancer Center reported that there were 4.29 million new cases of the disease every year and 2.81 million deaths.

The five-year cancer survival rate was just 30% in 2015, less than half the US level, prompting the Chinese government to pledge to improve on this by 15 percentage points by 2030.

China’s new medical insurance regulator, The State Medical Insurance Administration, is planning to include more cancer drugs on its list of medicines eligible for reimbursement.

So far, 10 foreign and eight domestic pharmaceutical companies have expressed a willingness to work with the administration to boost availability so more people can benefit from medication, as more drugs are added to the insurance system.

China removed tariffs on all imported cancer drugs from May 1, following a decision by Premier Li Keqiang in April.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in China. Data shows that this cancer has increased at a rate of around 3.5% a year from 2000 to 2013, compared with a drop of 0.4% a year over the same period in the US.

Levels are highest in urban areas. In small cities with a population below 500,000, the incidence of breast cancer is 30 per 100,000. For large cities with a population above 1 million, the incidence is 60 per 100,000 women.

iFLYTEK, a global AI giant, has recently invested in breast cancer detection smart bra manufacturer, Cyrcadia Asia. In Asia, many women either cannot access healthcare, or are unable to expose their bodies due to social, economic, or religious reasons. For women in many of these countries, discovery of the disease comes too late, and treatment is ineffective.

The iTBra contains two breast patches that detect circadian temperature changes within breast tissue. Anonymised data obtained from the iTBra is communicated directly to the Cyrcadia Health core lab for analysis via PC or smartphone.

Cyrcadia Asia operates under a strategic license and cooperation agreement with US-based Cyrcadia Inc to exclusively manufacture and commercialise the product for markets in Asia.

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