In October 2012, the Chinese government established maximum retail prices for specific products, including 30 antineoplastic medications. Three years later, in June 2015, the government abolished price regulation for most medications, including all antineoplastic medications. This study examined the impacts of regulation and subsequent deregulation of prices of antineoplastic medications in China.
Using hospital procurement data and an interrupted time series with comparison series design, we examined the impacts of the policy changes on relative purchase prices (Laspeyres price index) and volumes of and spending on 52 antineoplastic medications in 699 hospitals. We identified three policy periods: prior to the initial price regulation (October 2011 to September 2012); during price regulation (October 2012 to June 2015); and after price deregulation (July 2015 to June 2016).
During government price regulation, compared with price-unregulated cancer medications (n=22, mostly newer targeted products), the relative price of price-regulated medications (n=30, mostly chemotherapeutic products) decreased significantly (β=-0.081, p<0.001). After the government price deregulation, no significant price change occurred. Neither government price regulation nor deregulation had a significant impact on average volumes of or average spending on all antineoplastic medications immediately after the policy changes or in the longer term (p>0.05).
Compared with unregulated antineoplastics, the prices of regulated antineoplastic medications decreased after setting price caps and did not increase after deregulation. To control the rapid growth of oncology medication expenditures, more effective measures than price regulation through price caps for traditional chemotherapy are needed.