Paxlovid not being covered by health insurance in China

China’s response to the U.S. technology war from Pfizer’s Paxlovid not included in China’s national insurance.

The U.S. is choking China furiously while showing “kindness” to China. This is the same as the Tiangong spacecraft, Beidou satellite and c919 aircraft. The United States blocks advanced technology which are not allowed sell to China. Then China can only solve the problem on its own.

3 mins read

China’s National Health Insurance Administration has just released news that China and Pfizer fail to reach Paxlovid public insurance deal. The reason given was that the price quoted was too high. How much Pfizer exactly quoted and what the Chinese government expected is not known. Rumors on the Internet shows that Pfizer’s last offer is ¥700/box which is a 5-day supply for one course of treatment. The corresponding drug available in the US is $530 per course of treatment. The official price in the Chinese market is ¥2300. RMB/USD exchange rate is about ¥3700, so the price is very low in fact. It is said that it’s very effective for early prevention of serious illnesses. The price in China’s black market is speculating to over ¥40,000 (about $5800).

Pfizer is still eager to share this piece of almost the last big cake because of the vast market in China.It is also really sincere with quoted price ¥700 per box. Why China’s National Health Insurance Bureau still considers the price is so high? China has Azulfidine tablets as a guaranteed durg to treat of AIDS and coronavirus. 

China Azulfidine
▲ China's First Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Medicine that is made by Chinese company called Genuine Biotech(Chinese: 真实生物)

China’s Health Insurance Bureau for Pfizer’s Paxlovid would have depressed its profits as low as possible. In the end, the negotiations failed because Pfizer thought there was no “at least” rather than “enough” profit. The development of the drug is a risky attempt with a high failure rate. The investment is enormous if it fails until phase III trials. However, the payback is also very generous after the successful development. 

My understanding is that Paxlovid is not included in the health insurance which does not mean it is not imported. People can still buy it from drug store with high price. While the domestic Azulfidine tablets are only ¥350 for a course of treatment. The price may be even lower after this health insurance negotiation.

It is expected that some people will say that the domestic Azulfidine tablets are not as effective as Paxlovid. I don’t want to get involved in this boring of shouting match. Here is only to explore Chinese public policy The policy of pros or cons are not the purpose of this article.

China and Pfizer fail to reach Paxlovid public insurance deal this time. From my point of perspective, I think the impact of the US-China technology war has an important factor. Chinese government has to support domestic pharmaceutical companies even though Paxlovid is more effective than Azulfidine tablets. China wants to develop its own biotechnology and does not want to be controlled by others. It will compete with the United States in the field of biotechnology anyway. 

U.S. companies benefited from the Chinese market after China’s reform and opening up. Companies become stronger by using the revenue to invest in R&D. American companies will earn less money from the Chinese market in the future as the United States actively implements a decoupling policy with China. It will eventually affect the development of the enterprise unless there is a bigger market to make up for the Chinese market. 

It can be speculated that China will still use American products when it has to use them such as the approval of Paxlovid. However, I mainly use domestic product such as the Azvudine tablet. Vaccines made by United States cannot earn a penny from China at this time. U.S. launches opinion-driven campaign to discredit Chinese vaccines. However, China has multiple technology pathways to advance vaccines this time.

The mRNA also past 2b which is said to produce 23-29 times more antibodies than inactivated. How to evaluate the quality of a vaccine? Is it the best as long as it produces more antibodies? Think about it. I think the key to standing in China’s position is not to let others pinch the neck when it matters. In fact, the US embargoed the vaccine to the EU, Canada and India when it was introduced in the beginning. 

China has not been buying Boeing’s planes similarly. Why? China wants to support its own C919 aircraft.

This article is not about the effectiveness and safety of the drug itself, but public policy.

Chinese manufactured aircraft
▲ first Chinese manufactured aircraft

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