Paxlovid doses at a New York pharmacy (AP/Stephanie Nano, File)
Chinese health authorities refused to put Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment drug on a national reimbursement list that would have allowed patients to get it at a cheaper price across the country, saying it was too expensive.
Paxlovid, an oral drug developed by New York-based drugmaker Pfizer, has been in high demand in China since the country began phasing out its “zero COVID” restrictions and a wave of infections began sweeping the country. Although it’s supposed to be prescribed by medical professionals, that hasn’t stopped people from rushing to buy it on their own through any means at their disposal, including buying Indian generic versions of the drug over the internet, reports say. the local media.
Health authorities can take advantage of bulk purchases to lower prices in negotiations with pharmaceuticals, which, in turn, can provide a steady source of revenue. A medicine must be included in the reimbursement list to be covered by the national insurance system.
A woman with COVID symptoms receives an intravenous drip while using a ventilator in the emergency room of a hospital in Fuyang, in the central Chinese province of Anhui (Chinatopix Via AP)
China will include two other COVID-19 medicines: the Chinese-made antiviral Azvudine and the Chinese herbal medicine mixture Qingfei Paidu Granules, the National Health Security Administration said in a statement on Sunday.
Paxlovid will continue to be available to those patients who can afford it. Paxlovid and Azvudine are prescription medications used to prevent mild cases of COVID-19 from becoming severe.
Although the Chinese government has blocked the importation of vaccines not made in China, such as Pfizer’s mRNA injection, and relies on domestically-made vaccines, in February 2022 it approved the importation of the company’s COVID-19 drug.
Authorities in China have indicated that they have started distributing Paxlovid in some hospitals and community clinics, but the drug remains very difficult to obtain.
Numerous clinics in various cities such as Beijing or Shanghai told the AFP news agency that they were not offering the treatment and did not know when they would be able to.
A nurse gives a medication talk to an elderly patient while he is receiving an IV (Chinatopix Via AP)
The meager stocks on digital trading platforms were quickly depleted, prompting the entry of speculators.
A vendor contacted by AFP this week said they were charging 18,000 yuan ($2,610) for the box, about nine times the official price. The treatment would be shipped from the southern city of Shenzhen, but buyers “will have to wait” for delivery, he explained.
The seller did not detail the origin of the drug and stopped responding when the AFP journalist identified himself as such.
China is dealing with a major surge of COVID-19 as the virus has swept through big cities like Beijing and Chengdu. Sunday marked the first day in nearly three years that visitors would no longer have to self-quarantine when traveling to the country.
(With information from AP and AFP)
The US continues to offer vaccines against the coronavirus to China, but the Xi Jinping regime rejects them China reopened its borders after almost three years of isolation and set off alarms in the world due to outbreaks of COVID-19
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