HONG KONG Jan 8 China will cut prices of about
400 drugs for respiratory diseases, fever and pain by up to 20
percent from February, in a move to make medicines, including
some products from Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and
Novartis, more affordable.
It will be the fourth such price cut since 2011 and is part
of reforms since the early 2000s to make healthcare cheaper and
China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
said in a statement on Tuesday the latest round of price cuts
involved 20 broad classes of medicines and would include
As the government cracks down on costs, more Chinese
drugmakers are fighting thinning margins.
Sinopharm Group Co Ltd - China's largest drug
distributor - and smaller rivals like Sihuan Pharmaceutical
Holdings Group Ltd are expanding their distribution
networks to get bigger slices of the market to offset increasing
pressure on margins.
Faced with patents running out in the West, bigger foreign
pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca
, have hitched their futures largely to sales in
developing markets including China, India, Eastern Europe and
The average reduction in the latest round of price cuts will
amount to 15 percent, although the cut will be as high as 20
percent for the most expensive drugs.
Earlier rounds of price cuts included antibiotics,
anti-tumour, hormonal and blood-related medicines, and drugs for
the circulatory, nervous, digestive and immune systems.
Health Minister Chen Zhu told a health conference on Monday
that healthcare was still too expensive and there was still
inadequate control over the improper use of drugs.
China, with an ageing population, is overhauling its health
system and has made big strides since 2003. It now has a basic
universal medical insurance system and heavily subsidises a
growing list of essential drugs.
But many challenges remain in the country of 1.3 billion
people, including a lack of state funding for hospitals, where
drug sales, often at inflated prices, remain a major source of
(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn and Donny Kwok; Editing by Robert