Despite the widespread knowledge of kickbacks in China, CCTV’s national TV broadcast of an 8-month undercover investigation in December 2016 still immensely shocked the nation. The broadcast showed corruption involving doctors, drug manufacturers, and other medical representatives in some of the country’s leading hospitals. CCTV’s film showed drug company sales reps posing as patients during clinic hours in order to discuss kickbacks and deliver large amounts of cash.
The consequences of this film may seriously damage China’s healthcare system. While doctors implicated in the process may face prison, punishments for most pharmaceutical companies remain unclear. This controversial film has also brought up the issue of the government’s role in healthcare. Historically, doctors’ services have been underpriced, forcing hospitals to increase revenue through drug sales. Despite multiple health reforms, kickbacks are still occurring in China. The Chinese government hopes that continuing these reform programs will bring an end to corrupt kickback practices.