Reimbursements for cancer drugs in Belgium cost more than one billion euros last year in health insurance, 75% more than in 2016, according to data published on Monday.
In 2016, the Belgian health insurance funds spent around €600 million in cancer drugs. Two years later, this amount already climbed to what is estimated as over a billion, seeing as total 2018 expenses have not yet been accounted for, Nieuwsblad and De Standaard report.
One of the reasons for this significant increase is the use of immunotherapy, which stimulates the immune system to defeat tumours. Although only a small proportion of patients benefits from immunotherapy, the costs are much higher than those related to chemotherapy.
Health Minister Maggie De Block (Open VLD), intends to only process refunding for treatments that really improve the patient’s health. If this is not the case, the pharmaceutical producer should assume the costs.