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Premier sends instruction on cancer drug problems

Updated: Jul 18,2018 11:20 AM

Premier Li Keqiang recently sent an instruction on the heated discussion triggered by the film Dying to Survive. He demanded related departments take measures to reduce prices of anti-cancer drugs and secure their supply as soon as possible.

“Patients with serious illnesses such as cancer say ‘lifesaving medicines’ are too expensive to afford, difficult to get and they have no time to wait. Therefore, it is urgent to deal with the price reduction and supply guarantee of medicines,” Premier Li said. “Related measures decided at the State Council executive meetings should be implemented as soon as possible.”

At the two State Council executive meetings chaired by Premier Li in April and June, it was decided there will be no more tariffs for imported anti-cancer drugs, and new medicines are encouraged to be imported. Import approval procedures for new medicines that already launched in overseas markets should be accelerated. Prices for anti-cancer drugs should be reduced and the supply of desperately-needed medicines should be secured.

It was also decided at the meeting to slash the value-added tax for the production and import of anti-cancer drugs. Multiple measures should be taken, including government purchase and the listing of imported innovative medicines, especially anti-cancer drugs, into the medical insurance catalog. Cross-border e-commerce can also be researched and utilized. In this, unreasonable price markup can be avoided. Intellectual property rights protection on innovative medicines and quality supervision should be strengthened.

“Anti-cancer drugs are lifesaving medicine. When the tax is reduced, price should also be reduced”, Premier Li said. “Measures should be taken to break through the links, and promote price reduction for anti-cancer drugs, so people can truly feel the benefits.”

In April, Premier Li visited a foreign-funded pharmaceutical company. He proposed measures including bringing the medicines into medical insurance, and government purchase. In this way, he expressed the hope that price for serious illnesses’ medicines such as anti-cancer drugs produced by the company can be moderate.

“Once there happens to be a cancer patient in a family, the whole family will spend all their assets. Even kin may give a hand. Cancer has become the most life-threatening illness,” Premier Li said. “We should go all-out to treat patients and relieve the burden for their families.”

The Premier summed up accelerating the work with the words, “For cancer patients, time is life.” The film Dying to Survive reflects drug use difficulties for patients, which triggered broad attention and fierce discussion. Premier Li made specific instructions to related departments, laid out the need for concern over people’s worries, and promoted related measures to be fully implemented.