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Government concerned about drug treatment for patients with uncommon disorders
     In response to media enquiries on the demand on drug treatment by patients with uncommon disorders, a spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said the following today (May 2):

     "The Government and the Hospital Authority (HA) are very concerned about the well-being of all patients, including patients with uncommon disorders. The HA has all along been keeping abreast of the latest development of clinical treatment and scientific evidence, heeding the views and suggestions of patients' groups, as well as continuing to adopt the principle of properly using limited public resources while providing treatment to the largest number of needy patients, with a view to enhancing the Drug Formulary and optimising the support for local patients.

     At present, the HA has an established mechanism under which experts will assess new drugs regularly and expand the coverage of the Drug Formulary from time to time in order to benefit more patients in the use of safe and efficacious drugs at standard fees and charges in public hospitals and clinics. Existing drugs are also repositioned by the expert group in accordance with the actual situation among categories (for example, from self-financed drug category or self-financed drug covered by safety net category to special drug category, or from special drug category to general drug category).

     On drug treatment for uncommon disorders, the HA has put in place an independent expert panel mechanism to formulate treatment protocols for specific uncommon disorders and evaluated the efficacy of treatment on individual patient. The Government has allocated an additional annual recurrent funding amounting to $75 million to the HA to meet the increasing demand for ultra-expensive drug treatments for uncommon disorders.

     With the advancement of medical technologies, new drugs including those for treating uncommon disorders appear in the market but they are ultra-expensive. In view of this, the Government and the HA propose a new Community Care Fund (CCF) assistance programme to enable early use of ultra-expensive drugs by needy patients. The proposed assessment criteria for the means test will make reference to those applicable for drug subsidy under the Samaritan Fund (SF) with appropriate adjustment. If the proposed programme is endorsed, the HA aims to accept applications starting from August this year.

     During the operation of the programme, the HA will select suitable drugs on a regular basis according to the existing evaluation mechanism for consideration by the CCF Task Force before submitting them to the Commission on Poverty for final approval. If the adjusted criteria for the means test are considered practicable and acceptable upon review, the Government and the HA will study the feasibility of introducing ultra-expensive drugs into the safety net of the SF or other funds.

     The HA will continue to keep abreast of international research and the development of health policies in other economies in respect of uncommon disorders. It will consider suggestions for offering sustainable financial assistance to patients with uncommon disorders and continue to collaborate with drug companies in providing sustainable, affordable and appropriate support for these patients in the long run."
Ends/Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:12
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