HAIKOU, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Another 39 drugs were selected in the new round of a bulk-buying program endorsed by the Chinese government, which will be accessible to patients in July at a price 56 percent lower on average.
The centralized procurement inked on Wednesday is estimated to save 16.7 billion yuan (about 2.4 billion U.S. dollars) in medical expenses each year.
The purchase will effectively ease patients' financial burden and also help improve the market environment, said Jiang Changsong with the research institute of national healthcare security under the Capital Medical University.
Since 2018, China's National Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA) has organized eight rounds of drug bulk-buying, approximately halving the prices of 333 medicines treating diseases ranging from rare ailments to cancer and chronic diseases.
As its name suggests, the program takes advantage of the vast quantity of procurement in exchange for lower prices.
Experts believe this eighth round of procurement will deliver substantial benefits to patients, as it covers drugs for various common illnesses and chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, mental health conditions and allergies. For instance, the price of medicine treating premature delivery was cut by 80 percent from over 1,000 yuan to 240 yuan per dose.
Also included are some heparin products in short supply, which are usually used in the treatment of myocardial infarction and dialysis, noted Yue Xiaolin from the Xuanwu Hospital under the Capital Medical University. "This procurement will help hospitals stabilize drug supplies."
China has worked to advance medical reform and address expensive access to medical treatment of great concern to the people. "Centralized procurement has effectively lowered the prices of medicines and medical consumables to a reasonable level, achieving tangible results in medical reform," said Li Shuchun, an NHSA official.
A cancer patient with the pseudonym Zhou Yu from east China's Jiangsu Province is a beneficiary of the fifth round of the bulk-buying program in 2021. The medical expenditure of this patient declined from 2,640 yuan to 480 yuan for each chemotherapy treatment course.
"I really feel great relief," said Zhou.
Medical consumables, such as heart stents and artificial joints, were also included in the welfare program and have seen their prices drop by more than 80 percent. The program has helped save more than 400 billion yuan in medical bills in total, according to the 2023 government work report.
Relevant authorities also optimized the procurement process to ensure stable supplies. The centralized drug bulk-buying program has been extended across the country in 2019 and is still expanding.
While accelerating efforts to deliver more accessible and affordable drugs to its people, China has made ensuring the quality of entry drugs a priority to safeguard people's health.