Drumbeat grows for better access to medicines, hospital reforms in China

A leading Chinese health official renewed a call for greater access to medicines and other treatments through a more competitive distribution system and reforms in the way hospitals operate.

China National Health and Family Planning Commission minister Li Bin

Li Bin, minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said during a visit to one of China's provinces that medical workers as well as patients should be better informed about the steps the government has taken and plans to take.

She emphasized the need for wider insurance coverage for the seriously ill, both urban and rural, as well as even greater reforms in hospital drug-pricing practices than already have been made.

In addition, she called for a drug-distribution system that is standardized, competitive and more effective. The remarks come within days of China authorities at the highest level acting on legislation that would, among other things, decentralize drug industry regulation and free some price controls.

The State Council, China's cabinet, is meeting this week to consider bills and amendments intended to give some regulatory relief to several industries, including pharmaceutical.

- here's the NHFPC release