China will exempt import tariffs on all cancer drugs and encourage more innovative drugs to be brought in from abroad, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council yesterday.
From May 1, import tariffs on all common drugs including cancer drugs, cancer alkaloid-based drugs and imported traditional Chinese medicine will be exempted, the statement read. Value-added tax in the production and import of drugs will be heavily cut.
The authorities will reduce the prices of cancer drugs through centralized government procurement and eliminate premium prices for drugs by means of cross-border e-commerce. Imported innovative drugs, especially much-needed cancer drugs, will be incorporated into the catalogue of medical insurance reimbursement.
The import of innovative drugs will be accelerated, and they will enter the market more quickly.
Intellectual property rights protection of the drugs will be strengthened, according to the statement. The data protection period for innovative drugs will be prolonged to six years, within which drugs of the same kind will not go onto the market.
China will also allow medical institutions to conduct Internet medical services as part of a broader push to promote Internet Plus health care.
Medical institutions will be allowed to provide online diagnostic services for some common and chronic diseases in patients’ follow-up visits to their doctors.
The top two levels of hospitals within the country’s three-tier hospital system are encouraged to provide online services, including consultation reservations and test result inquiries.
“The development of Internet Plus health care is a major initiative to enhance our country’s public health services. It will also help facilitate overall economic and social development,” said Premier Li Keqiang, who presided over the executive meeting.
“As China joins the ranks of middle-income countries, the demand for health services has increased substantially. The Internet Plus health care can help alleviate the problem of inaccessible and expensive public health services,” he said.
“We must waste no time in pushing forward the measures once the decision is made. In recent years, top-level hospitals in major cities have seen steady increases in the number of outpatients. Medical bills became a heavy burden on families, and high-end medical resources still fall short of meeting the growing demand of the public.”
To resolve the problem, a two-pronged approach is planned.
One is to establish medical partnerships such as health care consortiums to enhance the cooperation and coordination between major hospitals and community clinics.
The other is to bring forward Internet Plus health care to facilitate the sharing of quality medical resources.
Dedicated Internet access services will be set up to meet the need for long-distance health care services.
“Anything involving human life is of utmost importance. The government must step up financial support to establish dedicated Internet access services for medical purposes and increase the supply of high-end medical equipment at central hospitals in remote areas,” Li said.
Editor: Zhang Liuhao