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Legislators, political advisors address shortage of medication for children


03-10-2017 18:56 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

(Source: CGTN)

By CGTN reporter Wu Guoxiu

There is shortage of medication for children in China, and doctors have little choice but to administer drugs meant for adults on children. This is in spite of the fact that the country has more than 6,000 drug companies. During this year's Two Sessions, legislators and political advisors are calling for more efforts to tackle the issue.

There are only about 60 approved kinds of drugs suitable for the 220 million children in China. A government report says children’s medication make up less than two percent of all approved medication in China. It’s a concern for this hospital head and CPPCC member.

"The shortage is very very serious, especially for children under three years old. We always have to give them drugs meant for adults, like a quarter of a pill. Furthermore, many drugs have descriptions which say they haven't been tested on children. So we have to ask parents to sign a consent form saying they understand the risks," said Ding Jie, CPPCC member, head of Peking University First Hospital.

This drug company began developing children's medication in the 1990s. This was a decision made by the board's chairman, Ren Wuxian, who is also a deputy of the National People's Congress. He says children's medication will be their strategic focus.

"This company spends 30 percent of its research funds on developing children's drugs, both traditional Chinese and conventional medicine. But the firm confirms that children's medicine is not a lucrative market," said reporter Wu Guoxiu.

Among the six thousand or so pharmaceutical companies in China, only about a dozen specialize in children's medication. Meanwhile, about 30 others, including this one, make it a part of their business operations. Ren explains why companies are wary of the children’s medication market.

"It's difficult to develop children's medication. The difficulty lies in the clinical tests. Especially in China, there are many patients, but parents don't want their children to test drugs. Furthermore, children's drugs are cheap and not very profitable, so companies don't want to spend much effort developing or producing. One of our traditional Chinese medication for children took us 10 years of research and five years of tests," said Ren Wuxian, NPC deputy, Board Chairman of Yabao Pharmaceuticals.

Last June, the government encouraged pharmaceutical companies to develop a specific set of drugs. But Ding says more incentives should be offered.

"The government really needs to offer more support to companies, like faster approval, compensation or tax cuts," Ding said.

Yabao Pharmaceuticals said it will develop the medication that China urgently needs for clinical use. But Ren says clinical trials will be very challenging and difficult, as it will involve babies under 12 months.

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