Access to anti-cancer drugs in India: Is there a need to revise reimbursement policies?

Gertruud Haitsma*, Himanshu Patel, Parthasarathi Gurumurthy, Maarten J Postma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The aim of this study was to examine the access of Indian cancer patients to optimum cancer care under selected government schemes by reviewing reimbursement schemes for cancer care in India.Methods: All cancer care reimbursement schemes in India were identified and three highly utilized schemes (VAS, RAS, CMCHS) were selected. Quality of breast, colorectal, lung, head & neck, and gastric cancer care was reviewed with respect to NCCN guidelines. Direct medical costs and shortage of budget in reimbursed amounts were calculated for each listed chemotherapy regimen.Results: Medical oncology practice following the schemes' formularies is inferior to recommendations by the NCCN guidelines. Innovative treatment (targeted therapies) like trastuzumab, pertuzumab (breast), bevacizumab, cetuximab, panitumumab (colorectal), erlotinib, gefitinib, crizotinib, and nivolumab (lung) are either not reimbursed (VAS, CMCHS) or partially reimbursed (RAS). Average shortage of budget was found to be 43% (breast), 55% (colorectal), 74% (lung), 7% (head & neck), and 51% (gastric cancer).Conclusions: Policy makers should consider addition of newer treatments, exclusion of sub-optimal treatments, increments in per patient budget and optimization of supportive care, which may contribute to improvements in survival and quality of life for Indian cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalExpert review of pharmacoeconomics & outcomes research
Issue number3
Early online date26-Feb-2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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