Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Manufacturers stop production of essential medicines after price controls

China's pharmaceutical manufacturers have stopped production of important essential medicines after price controls limited how much they could charge and profit from them, the government has conceded.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission has announced that it is now "working on a new mechanism to balance the economic interests of pharmaceuticals and the public demand for affordable and effective drugs," according to spokesman Mao Qun'an.
The move follows growing shortages of important but unprofitable drugs such as those for hyperthyroidism. In the China Daily, a report details how locally-produced anti-thyroid treatments such as methimazole (Tapazole) are no longer available for the 10 million people in China who have an overactive thyroid. Many hospitals can no longer access Chinese-made products and have to buy imported products instead.
The pricing for listed essential drugs such as Tapazole has been strictly controlled under a system introduced in 2009, but this has resulted in small profit margins for drug producers, and many of the 13 pharmaceutical companies producing the drug in China have ceased production.
Shortages of Tapazole have been noted in regional areas, but until now supply has not been a problem for major hospitals in big cities, many of which use imported drug.
The spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission said: "Under a market economy, all stakeholders need to cooperate and negotiate a balance to prevent similar problems from happening again in a bid to secure the drug supply."

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