Drug Prices are as bloated as post-binge politicians in America. But in China, it seems that drug prices are being slashed where it hurts – in Big Pharma’s collective wallet. A state-led campaign to slash drug prices has targeted some of the biggest drug manufacturers in the world.
China’s growing pharmaceutical market is still controlled largely by the government, which is increasingly dealing with a population suffering from illness like diabetes and cancer. China spent more than $115 billion on drugs last year, but with tighter budgets and a struggling economy, advocates are pushing for lower drug prices, and urging the government to negotiate better terms with the companies that sell them.
Companies from the U.K.’s GlaxoSmithKline to AstraZeneca and New York’s Pfizer Inc. saw their profits shrink on the Chinese market recently due to pricing pressure.
Last year the country experienced soaring drug prices as China became a world-leader in cancer cases. Some had to choose between life and death because the drugs for their diseases were so expensive. Bloomberg reported that a young leukemia patient needed an antifungal treatment used to fight infection made by Pfizer that costs $590 for 10 tablets, an amount equal to half the yearly income of the young patient’s grandparents who take care of the child.
More than 2.2 million people in China are handed a cancer diagnosis each year.
This is a big problem in China since many do not have healthcare coverage and the average disposable income is $3200 per person. The same Bloomberg report stated that Chinese cancer patients pay anywhere from 80% to 120% of U.S. prices for foreign medicines and also pay up to 77% of all private healthcare costs compared to U.S. patients who pay 22%. And we thought our healthcare system was abusive with astronomical drug prices (well, it is)!
China’s drug prices make former Turing pharmaceuticals CEO, Martin Shkreli, known for pharmaceutical drug gouging, look like a boy scout. It’s no wonder they are cracking down on Big Pharma greed.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.