Every step of the medical reform should be open and transparent, says an article in Shanghai Securities News. The following is an excerpt:
Though the new medical reform plan has not yet been launched, supporting policies have frequently been published. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced 10 designated pharmaceutical companies and the retail prices for 18 prescription drugs last month. The selection of the 10 companies has aroused much public controversy.
The country's medical system has been reformed time and again, but the results remain unsatisfactory. An important reason for this is that the decision-making process is not transparent.
Lessons should be learned for this round of reform. Every step should be open and transparent in an effort to avoid corruption. But so far the situation does not seem optimistic.
Take the selection of the pharmaceutical companies for example. The decision-making process has not been transparent. Why have these companies been selected? What are their standards? Will there be any changes in the future? The public has not been informed.
The selection of the companies does not only concern the interests of thousands of drug manufacturers but also that of the common people. The current selection process can easily lead to problems: unfair competition, and high drug prices.
The authorities by taking it upon themselves to select the companies have squeezed out competition. Drug price reduction through competition has been greatly reduced. These designated companies have actually gained the privilege of being a monopoly.
Though the authorities can set prices to avoid exorbitant profits for now, it will be difficult for them in future if the companies demand price increases citing increased costs.
Such a non-transparent step in the initial stage of the medical reform is worrisome. Once it is accepted, it will affect the entire reform.
All matters of the medical reform should be open, transparent and democratic. This will ensure its success.
(China Daily December 6, 2007)