Doc­tors probed over drug kick­backs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG YI zhang_yi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The top health author­ity has urged lo­cal of­fi­cials to look into al­le­ga­tions of pay­ment-for­pre­scrip­tion schemes be­tween doc­tors and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

Teams from the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion have been sent to hos­pi­tals in Shang­hai and Hu­nan prov­ince to in­ves­ti­gate claims that doc­tors have been ac­cept­ing bribes, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on Sun­day.

The state­ment came a day af­ter China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion broad­cast the find­ings of an eight-month un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tion at six hos­pi­tals in the two places.

Sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives from phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies were found to be pay­ing doc­tors kick­backs to pre­scribe their medicine. Ac­cord­ing to the CCTV ex­pose, they usu­ally vis­ited a doc­tor’s of­fice at lunch, counted the medicine they had pre­scribed over the past month and handed them cash in an en­ve­lope.

One doc­tor re­ceived 12 yuan ($1.70) for ev­ery box of medicine pre­scribed, which worked out at a to­tal of 1,800 yuan for 150 boxes.

The na­tional health com­mis­sion said it will look into the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies men­tioned in the CCTV pro­gram as well as work with other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to step up su­per­vi­sion and pun­ish vi­o­la­tions.

Medics who ac­cept kick­backs from phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies or ac­cept “red en­velopes” (en­velopes stuffed with cash) from pa­tients face tough penal­ties and even dis­missal.

Rules ban­ning doc­tors from pro­mot­ing brand-name medicines or tak­ing com­mis­sion for pre­scrip­tions were in­tro­duced in De­cem­ber 2014 by the na­tional health com­mis­sion and the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine.

“Doc­tors aren’t well paid and their work is not re­spected by to­day’s so­ci­ety, so when they’re given the chance to get cash from sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives it’s hard for them to re­sist the temp­ta­tion,” said Fu Hong­peng, a re­searcher for the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

Res­i­dents of New Taipei City, Tai­wan, protest against Ja­panese food im­ports on Sun­day, as the is­land’s food and pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties hold a pub­lic hear­ing on the risks of im­port­ing food from Ja­pan af­ter the Fukushima Nu­clear Power Sta­tion ac­ci­dent. The plant was dam­aged by a tsunami on March 11, 2011, which re­sulted in a leak­age of ra­dioac­tive sub­stances.

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