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Ever notice the astronomical prices on some foreign-branded medicines in China?
Those days may soon come to an end, according to a report from the 21 Century Business Herald Thursday.
The National Development and Reform Commission is seeking opinions on the de-velopment of a new pricing system for medicines known as original research drugs, or ORDs, which are, for the most part, made by foreign ventures in China, the paper reported.
Yu Deming, head of the Chinese Pharmaceutical Enterprises Association, confirmed with the Global Times Thursday that the ORD pricing regimen would soon be overhauled.
"The new pricing system will involve all companies that enjoy pricing autonomy, and most of them are foreign or joint venture pharmaceutical companies," said Yu.
Nearly 90 percent of these companies' profits in China are generated from sales of these drugs, reported the paper.
An NDRC official Thursday refused to comment.
Yu said that pricing system reforms are necessary to level the playing field.
For example, Captopril, a foreign-branded prescription drug used to treat hypertension and congestive heart failure, retails for around 1.7 yuan ($0.25) per pill in China, while its locally made generic equivalent retails for 0.12 yuan ($0.02) per pill.
The high-priced medicine is from Bristol-Myers Squibb, while Jiangsu-based Changzhou Pharmaceutical Factory produced the inexpensive equivalent.
So, why the huge difference in prices? Because the government awarded pricing privileges to medicines called original research drugs, or ORDs, which are, for the most part, made by foreign ventures in China.
According to an industry analyst quoted recently in the 21st Century Business Herald, the preferential treatment given to ORDs to bring new and innovative drugs into the country.
An official with an organization that represents 37 multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers, the R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee, has yet to receive instructions from the government on a policy shift.
By 2012, some $139 billion's worth of medicine will lose patent protections, which could be a great opportunity for generic drug producers, said Liu Zhenxian, managing director of R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee speaking at a forum last month.
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