Premier Li Keqiang recently made an instruction, urging more production and supplies of low-price domestic medicine for leukemia patients.
The move was a response to recent reports that many parents are forced to buy expensive imported medicine to treat their children with leukemia, due to the serious shortage of domestic supplies.
“It was another heavy blow to the families suffering from leukemia,” the Premier said. “And related departments should take effective measures to increase the drug supply,” he added.
“Mercaptopurine tablets”, a kind of medication specifically used for acute lymphoid leukemia in children, were out of stock for months in many places across the country.
There are six pharmaceutical companies qualified to manufacture the medicine in China, but none of them produce the medicine today.
An insider explained low profits and scarce raw materials are the main causes for the short supply of the leukemia medicine.
It was 40 yuan for a bottle of domestic tablets, but now the cost is 148 yuan and the domestic tablets are rare. Parents are rushing to find the medication and some have to choose overseas medicines that might cost up to 1,400 yuan, according to reports.
Coordination has been enhanced among pharmaceutical companies and franchises in some provinces to guarantee the supply, yet the problem still remains urgent.
Premier Li stressed that related departments should initiate a special effort for such an important issue, and submit progress reports.