left corner left corner
China Daily Website

High drug prices sour doctor-patient relations

Updated: 2013-01-07 20:54
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - Inflated drug prices and irregularities in the production and distribution of medicine have weakened patients' trust in doctors, Minister of Health Chen Zhu said Monday at the National Health Work Conference.

Chen also said unreasonably high drug prices increase risks of overdrafts in medical insurance funds, calling for tightening supervision over doctors' prescribing behaviors and cracking down on commercial bribery.

In China, doctors have been known to prescribe expensive drugs in order to receive kickbacks from manufacturers. This increases patients' financial burdens and sometimes leads to confrontations between hospital staff and patients.

Also at the conference, Chen stressed health institutions' compulsory use of essential medicines, which will allow patients to have a greater share of their drug expenses reimbursed.

The essential medicine system, instituted as part of the ongoing health reform, requires doctors to only prescribe drugs on the essential medicine list and to sell those drugs at wholesale prices.

The costs of all essential medicines can be reimbursed, and their reimbursement rate is higher than that of other drugs.

Chen said all grassroots clinics must prescribe only essential drugs. Sales of essential medicines should account for 40 to 50 percent of total drug sales in mid-level hospitals and 35 to 30 percent of that in top-level hospitals.