METHODS: We selected two medicines on the 2013 Thai national list of essential medicines (NLEM) [letrozole and imatinib] and three unlisted medicines for the same indications [trastuzumab, nilotinib and dasatinib]. We created timelines of access policies and programs for these products based on scientific and grey literature. Using IMS Health sales data, we described the trajectories of sales volumes of the study medicines between January 2001 and December 2012. We compared estimated average numbers of patients treated before and after the implementation of policies and programs for each product.
RESULTS: Different stakeholders implemented multiple interventions to increase access to the study medicines for different patient populations. During 2007-2009, the Thai Government created a special NLEM category with different coverage requirements for payers and issued compulsory licenses; payers negotiated prices with manufacturers and engaged in pooled procurement; pharmaceutical companies expanded patient assistance programs and lowered prices in different ways. Compared to before the interventions, estimated numbers of patients treated with each medicine increased significantly afterwards: for letrozole from 645 (95% CI 366-923) to 3683 (95% CI 2,748-4,618); for imatinib from 103 (95% CI 72-174) to 350 (95% CI 307-398); and for trastuzumab from 68 (95% CI 45-118) to 412 (95% CI 344-563).
CONCLUSIONS: Government, payers, and manufacturers implemented multi-pronged approaches to facilitate access to targeted cancer therapies for the Thai population, which differed by medicine. Routine monitoring is needed to assess clinical and economic impacts of these strategies in the health system.