The State Council issued a circular on Sept 19, urging improvements in the national system for essential drugs.
The number of essential drugs for common diseases, chronic diseases, and emergency rescue should be selected based on the national disease spectrum and of formulas, meeting the needs for essential drugs, according to the State Council.
Essential drugs for special groups like children, as well as public health prevention, are also emphasized.
It also said the government should optimize the selection and adjustment procedures for essential drugs, and conduct regular evaluations and adjustments on the essential drug list within three years.
Pharmaceutical companies are encouraged to upgrade their technology and make renovations, enhancing the production and supply of basic drugs, it added.
In addition, related departments should conduct centralized and classified purchases of essential drugs, which can allow both the government and the market to play a role, and set reasonable prices.
A monitoring and early warning system for drug shortages should be established, in order to identify shortage risks as early as possible, and solve problems accordingly, the document stressed.
The proportion of essential drugs used in public medical institutions should be stipulated on a provincial scale, increasing the use of essential drugs in medical institutions, the circular added.
Medical institutions should set scientific standards for the use of essential drugs in clinical departments and incorporate it into assessment, and the use of essential drugs should be linked with subsidies related to the essential drug system, according to the State Council.
Clinical use of essential drugs should be monitored, with key focus on type, quantity, purchase price, supply and distribution of essential drugs in medical institutions.
When the medical insurance department adjusts the National Drug Reimbursement List (NDRL), therapeutic drugs in the National Essential Drugs List (NEDL) will have the priority to be included, and essential drugs for major public health treatments such as vaccines in the national immunization program and AIDS drugs should receive more government investment.
Local governments are encouraged to prioritize essential drugs for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and severe mental disorders, while ensuring efficacy, minimizing drug expenditures for patients.
Quality and safety supervision should also be strengthened. Full-scale spot checks on essential drugs should be conducted, and the results should be released to the public in a timely manner, the State Council said.