The central government is planning a basic medicine system to control rising drug prices and improve access to health care, state media reported. The system, which includes a list of necessary drugs that would be produced and distributed under government control and supervision, will improve the accessibility of a range of basic medicines and prevent manufacturers from dodging existing price controls, according to Gao Qiang, China's health minister. China steadily reduced its health care funding during the beginning of its economic reforms, resulting in deficits for public health institutions and leading hospitals to create their own revenue by selling drugs. Since then the National Development and Reform Commission has capped the cost of hundreds of drugs, but critics argue that some manufacturers change the name and packaging of their drugs to escape regulation. Some hospitals and clinics have also ignored the price caps and refused to prescribe lower-priced alternative drugs.
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