Pun­ish­ments too le­nient to pre­vent medicine mo­nop­o­lies rais­ing prices

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - THE AU­THOR­I­TIES

will soon pub­lish a price guide for short-of-sup­ply medicines and bulk phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal chem­i­cals and they are seek­ing opin­ions from the pub­lic. Le­gal Daily com­ments:

The guide, if well im­ple­mented, can curb the price of medicines from ris­ing when they are in short sup­ply, which has been a long-term prob­lem given the monopoly sup­ply of some phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs.

The price su­per­vi­sion de­part­ments have in­ves­ti­gated dozens of cases of mo­nop­o­lis­tic phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies fixing medicine prices since 2011.

Two phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, one in East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince and one in Tian­jin in North China, were re­cently fined about 444,000 yuan ($66,000) in to­tal for abus­ing their mar­ket dom­i­nant po­si­tions.

The pun­ish­ments that the ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties can mete out to price con­trollers ac­cord­ing to the Price Law re­main too light to curb such prac­tices.

The le­niency of the Price Law means it en­cour­ages the law­break­ers since any fines they re­ceive

are re­garded as a sort of small tax that the busi­nesses pay for their ex­or­bi­tant prof­its.

Hope­fully, the pub­lic will take the op­por­tu­nity to make their opin­ions on medicine pric­ing heard by the rule-mak­ers and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies will take the ini­tia­tive to reg­u­late their prices in ac­cor­dance with the guide prices when they are in­tro­duced.

But the price guide is only an ex­pe­di­ent mea­sure. Apart from the law, there should be a black­list for the ma­nip­u­lat­ing the price of medicines.

Once on the list, the en­ter­prises should be banned from be­ing in­volved in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try for a cer­tain pe­riod of time or per­ma­nently, de­pend­ing on the sever­ity of their il­le­gal acts.

How­ever, the fun­da­men­tal solution is to break the mo­nop­o­lies pro­duc­ing some phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs.

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