Pharma stages protest of South Korean price cuts

Pharma CEOs and employees alike rallied in Seoul to protest new price cuts by the South Korean government. Like many other budget-minded countries these days, the South Korean Health Ministry is aiming to save money by slashing the prices of prescription drugs. The proposals aim to save the government 1.5 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in insurance payouts.

In this case, however, the cuts won't affect branded meds that are still on patent. But as soon as drugs fall off patent, prices will be capped at 59.5% to 70% of the pre-expiration price for a year, and then 53.55% after that.

Obviously, Korean drugmakers are in a tizzy about the proposal, which would bring prices down by 17% on average, with some cuts amounting to 33%. Previously, prices of off-patent meds were capped at 80% of the pre-expiration price for the branded version and 68% for generic knockoffs. "The Health Ministry is pushing ahead with a senseless policy to cut drug prices," an industry association said in a statement (as quoted by the Korea Herald).

About 100 pharma types showed up for the rally in downtown Seoul, and some went on to visit the Health Ministry as well. "We will take all possible means including legal action for the survival of the pharmaceutical industry," the association said. 

- read the Korea Herald story