Many low-cost pharmaceutical drugs have effects comparable to much more expensive ones. But in recent years consumers have found it tougher and tougher to find cheap drugs on pharmacy shelves. Jiang Jian, the associate president of Shuguang Hospital in Shanghai – and a deputy to the National People’s Congress – has told The Beijing News a unified national category of cheap drugs is needed.
The price of raw materials has surged and many profit-focused Chinese pharmaceutical companies have wound down production of cheap drugs as returns have dwindled. That has forced people with life-threatening diseases to spend far more on newly developed, more expensive medicines. It remains expensive to see a doctor in China, and rising drug prices are just another cost.
Last year, China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, alongside eight other government departments, issued guidance on reforming the supply guarantee mechanism for the shortage of drugs. Their proposal would establish a management platform based on big data and supervise which drugs experience long-term shortages.
But the proposal remains unattractive because it lacks incentives for companies to actually produce cheap drugs, The Beijing News says. A national category could protect the production of cheap drugs and meet the market’s needs.