19th February 2019
VAT cut offers hope to rare disease patients
State Council decision will see tax lowered by 13 percentage points from next month
Fang Haoran, 14, from Huaiyang county, Henan province, was diagnosed with Gaucher’s disease, a genetic disorder that enlarges the liver and spleen, in 2015.
It has prevented him from going to school and will kill him if not treated.
To go on living, Haoran needs a special drug, Cerezyme, but each dose costs around 23,000 yuan ($3,380). He should receive 85 doses a year for the rest of his life, but that would cost close to 2 million yuan a year and his family cannot afford that. With government assistance and money borrowed from relatives, Haoran received eight doses in 2017 and four last year.
His father, Fang Yulin, said that because the cost of the medicine cannot be reimbursed through the social security system, the drug is too expensive, and the family will not be able to afford any more this year.
But Fang, who runs a small shop, said he will not give up on saving his son and his biggest wish is to see a sharp reduction in the price of Cerezyme and the medicine covered by the country’s healthcare system.
A new measure adopted by the central government has given him some hope.
Starting next month, the value-added tax on 21 medicines and four active pharmaceutical ingredients for treating rare diseases will be cut from 16 percent to 3 percent to help reduce costs and ease financial difficulties for patients. Cerezyme is one of the drugs that will benefit from the VAT cut.
The decision was made at a State Council executive meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Feb 11th.