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Lung cancer has become the leading source of deaths among all types of cancer in China.

source:This site   release time: 2020-04-09 11:30:35   Browse:920Times  Font size: [Big] [in] [small]
Every year, 200,000 new lung cancer patients are treated with targeted drugs which could cost upwards of 15,000 yuan a month

Lung cancer has become the leading source of deaths among all types of cancer in China. Every year, 200,000 new lung cancer patients are treated with targeted drugs which could cost upwards of 15,000 yuan a month. But an Indian generic copy of a popular cancer fighting drug is being secretly sold online in China for a fraction of the cost, posing great risks to public health.

Type in a search for India Iressa and you’ll find many links selling it. But what people are buying is a generic copy of the cancer fighting drug Iressa, which is produced and patented by a UK pharmaceutical company.

The drug is used to treat many forms of cancer, including one of China’s top killers, lung cancer. Despite the dangers of buying generic copies of drugs, the low price tag is pushing many despearate people to take the risks.

This woman is selling generic copies of drugs from India, illegally in Qingdao.

"This is the price for five packs," she said.

She shows a receipt saying she spent 13,500 rupees, or about 1,400 rmb for 5 packs of Indian Iressa. That’s about 2 percent of the official price of what the British made drug costs when sold in China.

But she sells each pack for 600 rmb. Other sellers online can even ask for as much as 1600 rmb, which many people are willing to spend.

The sale of the Indian version of Iressa is not allowed in China because the Chinese government hasn’t given it an import licence. The drug authority has also warned people to be alert to such drugs sold online, as their quality can be suspect. But for patients in China, the huge difference in price from the original patented version, is sufficient to go in for it.

Ms Jiang from the city of Huludao in Liaoning Province, was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. She had to spend 15 thousand yuan a month to get the official UK produced Iressa drug from the hospital.

"If I spend 100 thousand or 200 thousand, and I sell my apartment, her cancer can be controlled, it’s ok. But everything is unknown, the medicine is too expensive," said a family member of patient.

Desperate to get her the drugs, the family chose to buy the medication from India via friends. And they are not alone. A Chinese law enforcement officer says half of the illegal drug cases he has investigated involved Indian cancer drugs.

"From the cases we dealt with, these kind of drugs are expensive. Some cancer patients can not bear the economic burden. We even find some doctors show sympathy to patients and hint that they buy Indian drugs online," said Huang Yong, Shenzhen People's Procurator.

But doctors warn about the risks involved in taking generic copies of drugs.

"Its effect may not be certain. The production technology is surely not as good as the original one. So when using it, the purity may not be enough. And the drug itself has side effects. It’s also a problem to control the side effects," said Li Lin, deputy director of Medical Oncology, Xuanwu hospital.

Despite all the risks involved both legal and to one’s health, many people in China are still looking to buy copied generic Indian drugs because of their low price.


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