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Prescriptions for relieving healthcare difficulties

Updated: Oct 6,2018 2:09 PM

Keywords from the last six months of State Council executive meetings: medical services and drug prices

Premier Li Keqiang mentioned in the Government Work Report this year that efforts should be made to solve people’s difficulties in receiving medical services. At the news conference following the conclusion of the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress this March, he mentioned that import taxes would be slashed, and anti-cancer drugs will gradually have zero tariffs.

Six months have passed since the new term of government took office, and “medical services” and “drug prices” have become regular keywords at State Council executive meetings. Premier Li stressed, “To our people, there’s nothing more important than lives and health.”

State Council executive meeting on April 12

1. Decisions were made to develop Internet Plus healthcare, relieve people’s difficulties in receiving medical services and enhance people’s health standards.

2. Decisions were made to cut tariffs to zero for imported anti-cancer drugs, encourage the import of new medicines, and bring more benefits to patients.

-The government will grant zero-tariff treatment to all ordinary drugs, including anti-cancer drugs starting from May 1, and greatly reduce the tax burden of value-added taxes related to the production and import of anti-cancer drugs.

-Decisions were made to research comprehensive measures such as centralized government procurement; incorporate imported innovative drugs, especially much-needed cancer drugs, into the catalog of medical insurance reimbursement; and eliminate prices for drugs by means of cross-border e-commerce.

-The pace of new drugs entering the market will be accelerated.

Quotes from the Premier:

-Internet Plus healthcare can not only relieve people’s difficulties, but also efficiently drive socioeconomic development. We have confirmed this and will accelerate the pace. Related departments should work together to implement the measures.

-It’s not just tariffs that should be cut. Related departments should also coordinate and release measures on production, circulation and material imports, in an effort to reduce drug prices. We can start with those anti-cancer drugs in great demand, so patients can really feel the price drop.

-We must accelerate the working pace in fields concerning people’s lives and health, and achieve significant results as soon as possible. We should try our best to relieve the burden for patients and their families, and hopefully people will not react negatively when talking about cancer.

State Council executive meeting on June 20

At the meeting, decisions were made to speed up administrative approval of newly imported medicine and ensure price cuts of cancer-fighting drugs and medication supplies. Draft regulations on preventing and disposing of medical disputes were also passed.

Quotes from the Premier:

-As life-saving drugs, anti-cancer drugs should see lowered prices while enjoying reduced import taxes. Greater efforts should be made to enhance price cuts that benefit the public.

-This urgent matter is associated with people’s well-being and the restructuring work regarding administrative streamlining in the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, all concerned departments should prioritize the issue and help make anti-cancer drugs widely available and affordable in China.

-The ripples emanated by drugs that are rare or target rare diseases are felt far and wide in our society. This issue should sit on top of the government’s agenda, and an adequate supply of drugs should be guaranteed.

State Council executive meeting on July 30

A report was shared about the investigation of Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd for the illegal production of vaccines for human use, and severe punishment was urged. A long-term institutional mechanism for safeguarding drug safety will be established in the country.

Quotes from the Premier:

Those held responsible should receive higher penalties and be subject to hefty fines, while those who have committed felonies should get jail sentences and a lifetime ban from working in the pharmaceutical industry.

State Council executive meeting on Aug 22

Decisions were made to expand the direct settlement of transprovincial medical expenses.

Quotes from the Premier:

-The direct settlement of transprovincial medical expenses is nothing to be sneezed at. It is conducive to people’s well-being as well as economic development.

-The national administration of medical insurance should work on overall planning and coordination, to effectively implement direct settlement of transprovincial medical expenses.

State Council executive meeting on Aug 30

Decisions were made to improve the national list of essential drugs to meet public demand and reduce cost burdens.

-Some 187 medicines were added to the national list of essential drugs, expanding the total number of drugs to 685 with a focus on those related to cancer, chronic diseases and children. Among the newly added medicines are 12 anti-tumor drugs, six of which are targeted drugs, and 22 urgently needed children’s medicines for clinical use.

Quotes from the Premier:

-Public healthcare institutions should plan for pooled procurement to push drug prices down, and drugs on the list should be given precedence to be included in medical insurance catalogs to alleviate patients’ burdens.

-To our people, there’s nothing more important than lives and health.