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China Continues Campaign Against Healthcare Sector Corruption, 10 Arrested in a Week

A report from Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that a crackdown on corruption in China’s medical industry is continuing, with at least 10 more people in the field investigated in the past week. The most recently investigated include hospital directors and CCP secretaries. This brings the total number of people investigated to at least 159 since the beginning of the crackdown.

The report cited a case in which a hospital director pocketed a 16 million yuan in kickbacks after importing a linear accelerator at an inflated price. It also described how pharmaceutical companies are trying to gain a higher market share by infiltrating hospitals through various channels, and how the expectation of large kickbacks is squeezing medical suppliers and sales agents. According to one industry insider, average kickbacks to hospital insiders is 20% to 30%, while sales staff have been squeezed, receiving only very small commissions. This situation comes about because there is typically more than one supplier to a given hospital department for the same product, and the department will choose to purchase the product from the company that offers the highest kickback.

Some pharmaceutical companies have used the pretext of sponsoring scientific research funds and academic conferences to transfer illegal benefits. The industry insider said that some high-level hospital officials drive luxury cars or fly business class when traveling. They are often invited to meetings and travel often “while ordinary people have to face the high cost of medical care.”

The report said that the current medical corruption crackdown is targeting the key links of production, supply, sales, use and reimbursement in the medical field, and pharmaceutical companies have also become a central focus of the campaign.

The National Health Commission of China and the country’s disciplinary inspection and supervision organs have held video conferences to mobilize and deploy efforts in addressing medical corruption nationwide. The meetings stressed the need to “increase the intensity of discipline and law enforcement, focus on leading cadres and key post personnel, persist in investigating bribery, concentrate forces to investigate and deal with corruption cases in the medical field, and form a ‘deterrent'”.

The crackdown on medical corruption is a major initiative by the Chinese government to improve the quality of healthcare and reduce the financial burden on patients. It is a sign that the government is serious about addressing the problem of corruption in the healthcare sector.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), August 8, 2023