Cancer Drug Has Money-Back Guarantee in China

Palbociclib Refund Not Available in US

Nick Mulcahy

February 15, 2019

In China, Pfizer will reimburse up to 33% of the cost of its breast cancer drug palbociclib (Ibrance) if a patient's disease progresses within 4 months, reports the drug industry news website Fierce Pharma Asia.

The oral therapy is used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer that is estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, HER2-negative.

The money-back arrangement is part of the company's Bo'ai Xin'an or, in English, patient benefit management program for those with breast cancer, launched in January.

The program reflects Pfizer's "active undertaking of its corporate social duties," said Wu Kun of Pfizer China in a related press statement.

The deal is not available in the United States, a Pfizer spokesperson told Medscape Medical News.

"The Ibrance Patient Benefit Management Program is specific to China. We do not have any specific plans to launch a similar program as yet in other markets," said Jessica Smith in an email.

However, the company will use "learnings and feedback" from China to inform potential programs in other markets, she said.

In the United States, palbociclib costs $12,900 for a single bottle (21 capsules, 125 mg; average retail price), according to

Bo'ai Xin'an is a collaboration between the Shanghai Branch of the People's Insurance Company of China (PICC), Shanghai MediTrust Health, and Pfizer China.

The Chinese arrangement is the country's first "pay-for-performance" insurance program in oncology, according to news site China Daily.

Patients with breast cancer who qualify can obtain economic reimbursement through insurance payment within 4 months after successful application, according to the China Daily report.

PICC Health Insurance did not respond to a request by Medscape Medical News for more information.

However, the program will accept no more than 500 patients and is limited to those who have not received hormone therapy, per multiple online reports. Notably, China has a national healthcare program, and private insurance plans such as PICC "have only interested a few," according to Fierce Pharma Asia.

Last year, palbociclib became the first CDK4/6 inhibitor approved in China, where breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer type among Chinese women.

In 2018, palbociclib totalled $4.12 billion in global sales, a 32% increase over 2017, Pfizer reported in January. The breast cancer drug is Pfizer's third-largest selling product globally.

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