Economic Information Daily (经济参考报), a business newspaper published by Xinhua News Agency, ran a story on November 17 reporting that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) may soon release a list of drugs that must be sold at low prices in China with the aim of reducing the financial burden of medical care on citizens and hospitals. The list may have a significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry: some out-of-production low-cost drugs will be protected and return to the market, while the makers of high cost drugs on the list will have their profit margins squeezed. The article also predicts that the pharmaceutical industry may soon see another round of mergers and acquisitions.
“Low-cost drugs” refers to the cheaper of the drug options used to treat a particular medical condition. The article quotes an informed source as saying that NDRC is expected to set the standard for low-cost drugs at a daily average cost of three yuan for western drugs and five yuan for processed Traditional Chinese Medicine (中成药, sometimes called “Chinese patent medicine”). The criteria and the list will be reviewed and adjusted every two to four years.
Low margins have been the primary cause that discourages pharmaceutical companies from selling low-cost drugs. As a result, hospitals are sometimes unable to obtain low-cost drugs, leaving patients with no choice but to buy more expensive alternatives.
It may just confirm what we already know — the smog is getting worse: China’s Meteorological Administration says that there were more smoggy days nationwide this year than anytime during the past 52 years. In Beijing, that includes half of the days in the month of October.
As if number alone is not alarming enough, several media articles cropped up this week that added a sense of urgency to the issue. Some such stories may seem anecdotal. On Tuesday, China News Service ran a headline shouting “smog causes cancer; youngest patient is only eight years old”. The story tells a sad tale of an eight-year-old girl who was diagnosed with malignant lung tumor, a disease that is usually associated with smokers and the elderly. Though grounded on little more than speculation, the article suggests a a cause by describing that the child’s home was next to a dusty road. On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s South Morning Post published an article that the smog might have a role to play in police’s failure to prevent a terrorist attack, in which a Uighur man smashed his vehicle against one of the bridges in front of Tian’anmen, killing everyone onboard and several passers-by on his way. Low visibility caused by smog can blind surveillance cameras, says the newspaper.
Errant weeing will no longer be tolerated in Shenzhen. From yesterday, new regulations made any instance of uncivilized behavior in public bathrooms in the city liable to a 100 yuan fine. As Shenzhen Evening News reports today, however, enforcing straight weeing is much easier said than done. Read more
Satan Lucky is the pen name of cartoonist and illustrator based in Beijing. He publishes some of his work on Weibo. His style is based on Ukiyo-e — literally “pictures of the floating world”, the traditional Japanese style of woodblock prints and paintings of nature, history, scenes from the theater and of geishas and other urban decadences.
Some of Satan Lucky’s cartoons depict fantastic beats that seem to have no connection with contemporary reality, while others can be read as critical commentary In the gallery below, for example, 404 (the error number most Web browsers indicate when trying to access a blocked site in China) is depicted as a beast that sits on the computer, blocking access to Youtube and Facebook, while Flesh Net Beggar refers to the way in which resourceful people can avoid paying fines to the Flesh Net Beggar and “jump over” the Great Firewall. Read more
The front cover of yesterday’s Jinan Times is dominated by an exposé of the Shandong honey industry, with a headline proclaiming “60-70% of honey on the market is adulterated,” leading into a detailed feature article on pages two and three. The report claims that the production of counterfeit honey in China is an open secret to industry insiders, and so journalists from the Jinan Times went undercover to investigate. If you enjoy eating honey, as the Chinese have since ancient times, then you will not like what these reporters found. Read more
On the evening of July 5th, 42 mental patients escaped from the No. 3 People’s Hospital in Teng county, Wuzhou, Guangxi province. A search was carried out, and all 42 patients were relocated by 7:33 am the following morning. Only yesterday, four days after the last patient was recaptured, was this incident featured in the People’s Daily in a report which bears strong similarities to an article that appeared back on July 8th in Southern Weekly 南方周末. Read more
The Qingdao Morning Post 青岛早报 reported in a front-page story yesterday that in the early hours of July 3, a stray Tibetan Mastiff ventured onto the Qingyin highway in Qingdao. From 3 until 11 am, local policemen made seven attempts to capture the dog, but in the first six encounters, the dog triumphed over his pursuers. But even after their sixth failure, the policemen did not give up and found the dog once more in a wooded area next to a toll booth at the entry to Qingdao Airport. There, according to the paper, the “Battle of Mastiff against Man” ensued. After a fight lasting two hours, six police officers captured the dog. Read more
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Chinese media last week reported that the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) announced that they had detected excessive amounts of lead in a foreign skin care product: “Almond Delicious Paste”, a skincare exfoliant product sold by the French company L’Occitane en Provence. L’Occitane is a Hong Kong-listed French company. Read more
In the city of Huangshi in Hubei province there’s a lake called Cihu Lake. Situated close to the Yangtze River, the lake area appears to be an idyllic scenic spot. Yet, especially in light of recent events, Cihu Lake is blemished by the existence of ten pig farms that are situated on the south-western edge of the lake. After 108 pigs were fished out of the lake in the last few days and several thousand more in lakes and rivers elsewhere in China, the local newspaper Dongchu Evening News wanted some answers, so it sent a journalist to the ten pig farms on Cihu Lake to investigate. The situation the newspaper uncovered is startling. Not only were all the pig farms technically illegal, none of them had the proper paperwork, and the farms were falsifying the labels on their pigs’ ears.
Yet making this deplorable situation worse is the state of government regulation being applied to the pig farms, regulation which can only be described as messy and inefficient. So while we may not yet know the full details of where all the dead pigs in the rivers originated from, the out of control pig farms on Cihu Lake can shed a lot of light on the situation.
Has tragedy become farce? As the vile mystery of several thousand dead pigs floating down rivers in Shanghai continues to roil, Chinese newspapers today report that a thousand dead ducks have been found floating down a river in Sichuan, and fifty dead pigs (mostly piglets) have been found stranded on a shoal in the Xiangjiang River in Changsha, Hunan province.
Yet there’s no need to panic, the newspapers point out, the ducks and pigs have all been buried and no sources of drinking water have been polluted. No, only our own souls remain polluted with the stench of rotting animals cast into rivers to float out of sight and out of mind.