China plays hardball to bring down drug prices, improve healthcare

With the goal of raising the quality and accessibility of its healthcare system to a level commensurate with its position as the world’s second-largest economy, the Chinese government has in the past five years doubled the money it pours into public hospitals to $38 billion, revamped its drug approval system and attracted vast venture capital to the development of biotechnology and artificial intelligence. But the sheer size of the patient population in China, not to mention the health challenges Chinese confront as the society ages, makes it hard to create a viable long-term healthcare system. To bring down the costs of growth, China is pressuring pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices drastically in exchange for access to China’s vast pool of patients. Some major pharma companies have agreed to cuts in the prices of some of their products marketed in China by as much as 70%.