The Chinese government has released a list of essential medicines, which will be sold at controlled prices from September 2009, as part of reforms to make healthcare more affordable.
The 307 drugs on the list account for around 25% of national drug spending, and are used to treat around 80% of the most common diseases in China.
The list has been put together as part of the country’s 850 billion yuan (US$124.5 billion) health service reform, which is aiming to provide basic healthcare cover for at least 90% of the population by 2011.
The price-controlled medicines will be sold at 30% of the community medical facilities, and by 2020 they will be the first-choice medicines at all state-run health institutions. The government will regulate the cost of the drugs and they will be purchased by provincial governments through procurement auctions. Guideline prices will be published every year, and the list will be updated every three years according to changes in demand.
The drugs on the list, which include both Western and traditional Chinese medicines, will be eligible for state subsidies of up to 100%, making them more affordable for the population of 1.3 billion.
China’s Health Ministry said the list would create competition among manufacturers to get drugs approved, and could lead to more mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry.
Further reading - For more information see related article: China - Essential Medicines System May Lead to Market Expansion. An in-depth analysis of the Chinese pharmaceutical market, including some background information on healthcare reforms, is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: China (published July 2009)