- China has signalled its intent to cut prices of medicines used to
treat serious diseases such as cancer, part of a wider drive to reduce
the cost of healthcare for patients in the world’s second-biggest
The National Health and Family Planning Commission is negotiating a
pilot programme with drug firms to lower the price of five drugs, the
official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, citing Li Bin, the
head of the commission.
The high cost of healthcare is a major point of contention in China,
where low levels of state health insurance coverage means patients and
their families often burn through savings to buy drugs to treat chronic
"We are taking measures to satisfy people’s need for drugs, especially
to resolve issues of high-priced patented drugs and patients unable to
afford medicines," Li said on the sidelines of the National People’s
Congress (NPC) in Beijing.
China’s drive to lower the price of drugs is one of the main challenges
facing drug firms in the world’s second-largest medicine market, where
growth has slowed markedly over the past couple of years. Beijing is
also supporting domestic firms to take a bigger share of the market.
Li said the pilot scheme would seek to reduce the price of the five
drugs by over half, adding the drugs were currently expensive because
they were patented or imported. She did not name the drugs or the
companies which made them.
China’s cancer drug market is led by Swiss firm Roche Holding AG
(ROG.S), followed by China’s Qilu Pharmaceutical, Jiangsu Hengrui
Medicine , Jilin Aodong Pharmaceutical Group and Britain’s AstraZeneca
PLC (AZN.L), Deutsche Bank said in a 2015 report.