UPDATE 2-China says talks to include Paxlovid in its health insurance drug list fail

UPDATE 2-China says talks to include Paxlovid in its health insurance drug list fail

(Provides Pfizer remark in 5th paragraph)

BEIJING, Jan 8 (Reuters) – China will not contain Pfizer Inc’s Paxlovid in an update to its listing of medicines covered by primary clinical insurance plan schemes as the U.S. agency quoted a substantial price tag for the COVID-19 drug, China’s Healthcare Safety Administration (NHSA) explained on Sunday.

The COVID-19 antiviral drug is at the moment protected by the country’s wide health care insurance plan plan less than short-term steps the regulator introduced in March last calendar year as outbreaks rose.

But authorities held talks with Pfizer in current times to determine whether to include it in the most recent version of their listing, which they update each year.

Inclusion on the list means a drug is obtainable via state insurance strategies, which will strengthen volumes but will come with the situation that suppliers decreased prices. Past rounds have found drugmakers slash prices by as a lot as 62% just after negotiations with officials.

“We will continue to collaborate with the Chinese federal government and all relevant stakeholders to safe an sufficient source of Paxlovid in China. We stay fully commited to fulfilling the COVID-19 procedure requires of Chinese sufferers,” Pfizer said in a statement, with out elaborating.

The NHSA stated Paxlovid would go on to be eligible to be paid out for by point out clinical insurance till the present-day planned end-date to the short term steps of March 31.

When the talks on Paxlovid failed, they succeeded with two other COVID-19 procedure drugs — natural medicine Qingfei Paidu granules and Chinese drugmaker Legitimate Biotech’s Azvudine — which will be included in the list’s update, the regulator said.

Three many years into the pandemic, China commenced pivoting absent from its signature “zero COVID” coverage last thirty day period soon after historic protests towards the economically-detrimental curbs that experienced been championed by President Xi Jinping.

The unexpected loosening of limitations has fueled a giant wave of bacterial infections and prompted quite a few to change to underground channels to procure cures this kind of as Paxlovid, which a scientific trial has located to have minimized hospitalisations in significant-danger individuals by all around 90%.

Containers of Paxlovid are shifting palms for as substantially as 50,000 yuan ($7,313.15), extra than 20 moments the primary price tag of 2,300 yuan, in accordance to local media experiences and social media posts.

Beijing has been mainly resistant to Western vaccines, but has greenlighted international oral solutions Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir. It accepted Paxlovid in February.

Reuters reported on Saturday, citing sources, that China is in talks with Pfizer to safe a licence that will enable domestic drugmakers to manufacture and distribute a generic version of Paxlovid.

Final month, China Meheco Group Co Ltd explained on Wednesday it signed an arrangement with Pfizer to import and distribute Paxlovid in mainland China.

Pfizer also signed a offer in August for Chinese drugmaker Zhejiang Huahai to produce Paxlovid in mainland China entirely for clients there. ($1 = 6.8370 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Brenda Goh, Yingzhi Yang and Roxanne Liu Modifying by Raissa Kasolowsky, Elaine Hardcastle and Daniel Wallis)