Premier Li orders more supplies of leukemia medicine

Updated 2017-11-21 15:17:29 CGTN

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has recently urged pharmaceutical companies to produce and guarantee supplies of low priced domestic medicine for leukemia patients.

The instruction says "related departments should attach great significance to the matter and take effective measures to increase drug supply to relieve families' heavy blow.

The move is a response to recent reports that "mercaptopurine tablets," a medication specifically used for acute lymphoid leukemia in children, have been in serious shortage for months.

"Doctors didn't mention the medication was out of stock from February to October in 2016, but after that, supplies became unstable. Sometimes we had to wait for a couple of months to get a prescribed one," said Zhou Sheng, a parent in Shanghai, according to a report from the Paper last week.

As a result, parents are forced to turn to overseas purchase or expensive imported medication, which could cost as much as 1,400 yuan (about 205 US dollars) per bottle, compared with 40 yuan (5.9 US dollars) per bottle for domestic ones.

Parent Yu Mei said "it is best to take domestic medication because I am more assured to buy it myself. What I can do now is to wait. I think most parents are in the same situation at the moment."

As a result, parents are forced to turn to overseas purchase or expensive imported medication, which could cost as much as 1,400 yuan (about 205 US dollars) per bottle, compared with 40 yuan (5.9 US dollars) per bottle for domestic ones.

Six pharmaceutical companies are qualified to produce the drug in China, but none of them are supplying it in recent years.

An insider revealed that low profits and shortage in raw materials are to blame.

China has about four million leukemia patients, half of whom are children. It is reported that domestic leukemia cure is expected to be available by the end of this month.

Last June, Chinese authorities have issued guidelines to deal with occasional shortages of some prescription drugs, with online monitor network established to ensure supplies do not run out.

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