Physician and Payer Perspectives on Prescribing and Patient Access
China has long wrestled with an increasing prevalence in respiratory diseases that has accompanied its economic growth and development. As a result of poor air quality, the overall disease burden of asthma in China has increased among the rapidly urbanizing population of 1.3 billion. Today, China has the world’s highest asthma mortality rate, according to the Asia Asthma Development Board. Unfortunately, treatment options for asthma patients remain similar to those available ten years ago. The market is dominated by long-acting beta2 agonist/inhaled corticosteroid fixed-dose combinations (LABA/ICS FDCs). Many newer drugs, which are available in mature pharmaceutical markets, such as the once-daily LABA/ICS FDC Relvar (GlaxoSmithKline’s vilanterol/fluticasone), and targeted therapies such as Xolair (Novartis’s omalizumab), are not yet available in China, leaving pulmonologists desperate for novel treatments that can help patients achieve better disease control. The likely high cost of emerging therapies will be met with payer-imposed reimbursement restrictions. New therapies will also have to contend with the impending entry of generic versions of key therapies. In the current economic climate, drug manufacturers must overcome these and other challenges to gain access to China’s increasingly cost-conscious pharmaceutical market.