Kantar Health Blog

Asian oncology market: Growth opportunities are tempered by market access challenges

by Questa Lin | Sep 27, 2012
Questa Lin

The Kantar Health team is wrapping up our visit to Beijing for the EphMRA Asia meeting, where we were happy to meet many of our clients from around the Pacific Rim. While there, I had the opportunity to present on a subject that’s getting more and more attention in the region: market access and reimbursement opportunities and challenges in oncology.

Growth in the “pharmemerging” markets has been particularly strong in Asia, which now accounts for nearly half of all new cancer cases in the world. While the market for oncology products is stronger here than in more developed parts of the world, we’re still facing many challenges in getting cancer therapies to market. The market access and reimbursement processes are complicated in that they are influenced by centralized and regional decision makers (and often do not include key stakeholders, such as patients), change is rife and resources are limited.

Conducting a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is a particular challenge because processes are not transparent and are at different stages across Asia. They are very different from their Western equivalents (e.g., formulatory inclusion independent of HTA evidence). South Korea and Taiwan have advanced HTA for new products and higher reimbursement rates; Thailand and the Philippines are beginning with HTA for evaluation of new drugs, whereas China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam lag. The market access challenges are becoming clear. The lack of intellectual protection also has to be taken into consideration when planning oncology portfolios in Asia.

Prospects are still promising for those who are developing innovative products and also understand the key centres of stakeholder influence, as well as pricing and reimbursement scenarios and possible HTA changes. This is particularly the case in the more developed Asian regions such as China, South Korea and Taiwan, where we see very different market access and reimbursement situations.

With the focus being more on treating patients’ disease holistically, the main challenge companies face in all three countries, and indeed in the whole of Asia, is to demonstrate overall cancer survival rates and how the products and surrounding educational/care programmes used at an earlier stage of the disease can positively impact patient outcomes.

This needs to be achieved by taking account of the decision-making processes of all stakeholder groups and the part they play in the unique healthcare setups across the region.

For more information, take a look at our full presentation or get in touch if you’d like to discuss this further.

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