Official responds over imported medicine pricing

Updated: 2013-09-08 15:40


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BEIJING - A Chinese official has cited tax, additional pricing by hospitals and bloated circulation fees as the cause of high-end imported medicine to be sold at higher prices on the mainland than in Hong Kong.

Guo Jianying, a senior official with the pricing division of the National Development and Reform Commission, made the remarks on Saturday while attending a health-themed forum sponsored by Peking University.

The comments came amid heated public debate over Hong Kong's lower prices for high-end imported pharmaceuticals than the mainland, which reportedly have lured many mainland buyers.

Guo said among the more than 300 foreign original medicines that fall within the supervision of mainland authorities, around 80 percent are sold at prices higher than in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, while some 70 percent are cheaper than in Europe, the United States and Japan.

Explaining why some of medicines are sold in Hong Kong cheaper than on the mainland, he said that in the special administrative region, imported medicine there will not have a tariff of 5 percent on the manufacturer's price, or a further value-added tax of 17 percent as on the mainland.

In Hong Kong, there is no 15-percent additional cost based on the manufacturer's price by hospitals, which are designed as part of policies to ensure hospitals have appropriate funding sources, Guo said.

Moreover, circulation fees for imported drugs sold in Hong Kong will not be as much as around 20 percent of the manufacturer's price as on the mainland, he said.

Guo said on the mainland, the government's drug pricing regulation is mainly to place a cap on retail prices.

Such regulation does not cover all medicines, but only those essential drugs that are included in the health insurance scheme and those that have a monopoly over the market, he said.