In a Nutshell: Understanding the Cancer Drug List and How it Affects Cancer Treatments (updated Oct 2023)

The government introduced a Cancer Drug List (CDL) to ensure that cancer patients are given clinically-proven and cost-effective treatment. 

What is the Cancer Drug List (CDL)?

The Ministry of Health (MOH) introduced the Cancer Drug List (CDL) to prioritise the affordability of cancer drug treatments and services, and insurance premiums. The CDL is a list of clinically-proven and most cost-effective cancer drug treatments. 

The CDL has increased from 270 treatments when it was first introduced in August 2021, to over 360 treatments as of November 2023. This means that there is coverage for almost 90% of all cancer drug treatments and services approved by the Health Sciences Authority.  For more information, please refer to MOH’s website here

What are the benefits of CDL?

  • MOH can negotiate better prices for cancer drug treatments to be brought into Singapore
  • A higher number of cancer patients are able to access a wider range of cost-effective treatments than before
  • More affordable cancer drug treatments for patients whose drugs are under the CDL as they get to enjoy greater subsidies with coverage from MediShield Life and MediSave


What are the changes as of September 2022?

Financial Coverage

Cancer drug treatments and services are no longer covered “as charged”, which refers to how treatments used to be covered by IP plans. Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) purchased or renewed after 1 April 2023 will only cover cancer treatments that are on the CDL.

Cap for Treatment Claims

Cancer drug treatments and services have their own separate cap in insurance claims. Drugs refer to the specific medications. On the other hand, services refer to doctor’s consultation fee, laboratory tests, scans and other medicines that might be needed for conditions such as nausea or infection. The MediShield Life (MSL) cap for drugs is $200 to $9,600 a month depending on treatment, and for services, it is $3,600 a year.

What does this mean for existing and/or new cancer patients?

Patients with cancer drug treatments and services that are not on the list may still be covered by IP riders or certain cancer plans that they have. Alternatively, they can seek subsidised care at public healthcare institutions, where they may apply for financial assistance.

With the CDL, it is a reminder for all of us to constantly review and check on our insurance policies and their respective coverages. Overall, the CDL is welcomed by many. The list of cancer drug treatments and services is updated every four months. This means that more patients will be able to gain access to increasingly affordable treatments. 

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