The health minister is expected to formally approve the therapy, Zolgensma, by the end of March, with public health insurance coverage seen starting this summer. The therapy, which has already been approved in the United States, is expensive, costing the dollar equivalent of 230 million yen in the country for one-time infusion.
Under the current system, people aged 75 or above, excluding those with incomes comparable to those of preretirement workers, pay 10 pct of medical expenses out of pocket. The government plans to boost the share to 20 pct for those with incomes above a certain level.
“The decision comes after the ministry’s survey following the deadly torrential rains in western Japan and the earthquake that caused a complete blackout in Hokkaido last year found that more than 100 of the hospitals do not meet either of the criteria.”