* Essential drug list to be increased from 307 to 700 -
* List intended to control healthcare costs, diminish
* Listed Chinese pharma companies struggle for profitability
SHANGHAI, August 18 China is set to increase the
number of products on its price-controlled "essential drugs"
list to 700 from 307 by the end of the year, the official
Shanghai Securities Journal reported On Saturday, quoting
The move would signify a scaling back of plans announced in
February to increase the number to 800, as Chinese
pharmaceuticals companies struggle.
The essential drugs list is a key tool for the government in
its attempt to provide affordable, universal, high-quality
health care to a population of 1.3 billion, many of them poor,
while cracking down on corruption and over-prescription problems
common in Chinese hospitals.
However, Beijing has struggled to balance the desire to
provide the social benefit of cheap drugs with its strategic
goal of creating a profitable pharmaceutical industry.
Five Chinese drugmakers, including United Laboratories
International Holdings Ltd, issued profit warnings in
March. On Aug. 9, United Labs warned again that profits were
likely to miss estimates "due to (the) general drop in average
prices of the Group's products".
Some analysts believe the low pricing will benefit the
largest players in the industry by forcing consolidation.
In June, China Pharmaceutical Group Ltd said it
would buy pharmaceutical assets from its parent company for
HK$8.98 billion ($1.16 billion) as it aims to expand its
finished drug business and curb reliance on intermediates and
(Reporting by Pete Sweeney; Editing by Edward Lane and Paul