Four drugs for rare diseases added to national list of essential medication
Four “orphan” drugs, or pharmaceuticals that have not been commercially developed, will be added to Thailand’s national drug list for patients with rare conditions.
On August 2, the National Health Security Board approved in principle the inclusion of the drugs in category E(2), a subcategory of drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
Category E(2) includes a list of orphan drugs and priority medicines listed to improve accessibility to drugs and to protect the public.
Orphan drugs are required by a limited number of patients, and the prescription of these drugs requires special expertise, involves advanced technology and they can be too costly for many in society.
In addition, doctors must prescribe these drugs under an authorized system monitored by relevant government offices, including the National Health Security Office (NHSO), Comptroller General's Department, Finance Ministry, Social Security Office and Labour Ministry.
Dr Jakkrit Ngowsiri, the NHSO deputy secretary-general, listed the four drugs as:
• Imatinib – an oral chemotherapy medication used in cancer treatment.
• Dasatinib – used for the treatment of certain cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
• Tocilizumab – an immunosuppressive drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which is a severe form of arthritis in children.
• Ceftazidime/avibactam – used for the treatment of bacterial infections.
Imatinib and Dasatinib will be prescribed to child patients with Philadelphia Chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ALL), a rare subtype of the most common childhood cancer.
Tocilizumab will be used in child patients aged over two, who have systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis and who have not improved with other types of medical treatments.
Ceftazidime/avibactam will be provided to patients with Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae who have resistance to colistin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.
Dr Jakkrit said the availability of these drugs would save the lives of at least 316 patients covered by the Universal Coverage Scheme.
The NHSO will procure the drugs, expected to cost around 77 million baht, and distribute them to hospitals treating these patients.