China plans to add a record number of 61 heavy-discounted medicines to its latest round of national bulk-buy program, with an average price cut of 56 percent, the country's drug procurement authority said on Wednesday.
The preliminary list of drugs winning the latest round of bidding that wrapped up in Shanghai on Wednesday was released by the national drug centralized procurement office on the same day.
China launched the national centralized procurement mechanism in late 2018. As per the centralized mechanism, drugmakers significantly cut prices to be eligible for large-volume procurement led by the government, in an effort to alleviate medical burdens of the public.
During the previous four rounds of procurement, more than 150 drugs were listed, according to public data.
Ding Yilei, an official at the National Healthcare Insurance Administration, said during an interview with China Central Television that drugs selected during the fifth and latest round of procurement are estimated to be worth about 55 billion yuan ($8.5 billion), the highest in history.
Injectable medications commonly used for intensive care and treatment of severe symptoms account for about 70 percent of the total value, he added.
The preliminary list includes 251 products from 148 pharmaceutical companies in total, including 10 foreign-funded enterprises.
Gong Bo, an official at the Shanghai municipal healthcare insurance bureau, said the increasing number of listed foreign companies means that many costly imported drugs will be affordable to the public and the domestic market is becoming more appealing to foreign drugmakers.