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China Cuts Traditional Medicine Prices

China on Monday announced that prices of 188 traditional Chinese medicines will be cut in its latest effort to provide more affordable medicines.

The price cut mainly covers medicines used in the treatment of wounds, gynecological, eye, nose, ear, throat, and skin diseases, said the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning and regulating agency.

The commission said a retail price reduction averaging 16 percent will take effect as of April 16 and save consumers 1.6 billion yuan each year.

It also urged local authorities to closely monitor the drug market and take timely measures to lower retail prices of any medicines that were marked up from the wholesale price by more than 15 percent at non-profit medical institutions at or above the county level.

Medicines are still over-priced despite several price reductions, said Ma Kai, head of the commission, on March 7, adding the nation needs systematic reforms to ensure medicines are more affordable.

 "The drug market is actually very chaotic and many medicines have their names changed to avoid price cuts," he said.

Ma says the government should take more measures to change the system that requires hospitals to earn a profit by selling medicine. He also wants problems in drug production and distribution addressed and to correct irregularities in the approval of new medicines.

(Xinhua News Agency April 10, 2007)

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