Profit-Seeking in China’s Health Care System ‘Undermining’ Government Efforts To Treat HIV-Positive Patients
China's HIV/AIDS epidemic has "exposed how local profit-seeking" in the country's health care system is "undermining central government initiatives" to fight the disease, "reflect[ing] a broader crisis assailing the health care system," the Washington Post reports. Despite a program to provide no-cost antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people in China, patients are being forced to pay for their treatment because of a "relentless drive for profit within the Chinese health care system," according to the Post. Medical experts, government officials and patients say that Chinese doctors at local hospitals who are responsible for dispensing the antiretrovirals are "exploiting those in need, padding bills with unneeded drugs and dubious services," the Post reports. The government launched the antiretroviral drug program, which aims to supply 30,000 HIV-positive people with treatment by the end of 2005, using a $95 million grant from the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. About 2,000 of the 19,000 patients who have received antiretrovirals through the program have stopped taking them because of side effects, including low blood pressure, insomnia and nausea, medical experts say. In addition, many doctors prefer to "prescribe expensive medicines than give away something for free," the Post reports (Goodman, Washington Post, 11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.