Hepatitis B treatment named as Taiwan's top-selling drug for last year

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A pharmaceutical for hepatitis B was the top-selling drug in Taiwan last year, while those for hypertension and high blood sugar constituted the highest aggregate amount.

Those for targeted cancer therapy were found to be the priciest.

Figures compiled by the pharmaceutical industry show that sales of a drug for chronic hepatitis B reached NT$1.7 billion (S$70 million) in 2012 to take the top spot by replacing a drug tackling high blood pressure.

Dr. Hsu Chin-chuan, a professor and attending physician of internal medicine at National Taiwan University Hospital, said the government's multiple measures of giving infants hepatitis vaccination, detecting virus carriers earlier, and applying follow-up drug treatment have effectively reduced the fatality rate for liver cancer patients.

Hsu, who also heads the Hepatitis Foundation in Taiwan, said almost all hepatitis patients are now able to receive proper treatment at the early stages of the disease.

He said he expects that the incidence of hepatitis B and C, which have unusually high prevalence in Taiwan compared with other countries, can be lowered to similar levels as in the US within 20 years.