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China Slashes Cost of Overpriced Drugs

China will slash the price of more than 240 drugs by 20 percent on average while increasing the price of about 100 other medicines that are in high demand, the country's top economic planning body announced on Tuesday.


This is the 17th cut in the cost of drugs since the government resumed price controls over some drugs in September, 2005, in an attempt to control soaring health care costs.


The price cuts directed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will take effect on Friday.


Some drugs in this round of price cuts will be slashed by as much as 85 percent, saving consumers about 7 billion yuan (US$900 million), said the NDRC.


"We will continue to lower the cost of overpriced drugs. We will stop price cuts of low-cost drugs that are widely used to encourage production and we will properly raise the price of medicines that are in high demanded and often sold out," said an unnamed NDRC official, who did not say by how much drug prices will increase.


The NDRC investigated the difference between the production costs and retail prices of a number of medicines before finalizing its price reduction plan.


The NDRC slashed the prices of 67 cancer drugs by an average of 23 percent in June and cut the price of 32 traditional Chinese medicines used in cancer treatment by an average of 14.5 percent in November. Those price cuts saved consumers a total of 7.9 billion yuan (US$1.01 billion).


(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2007)

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