A new essential medicine list including 317 kinds of chemical medicines and biological products and 203 Chinese patent medicines was issued on Friday by the Ministry of Health.
Compared with the latest version revised in 2009, both the quantities and categories of the essential medicines see an increase in the new list, with 213 new entries added as essential medicines, authorities with the ministry said.
Essential medicines refer to those which satisfy healthcare needs and which must be made available to the public at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the public can afford.
The number of dosage forms has climbed to 850 from 780 in 2009, while the drug specifications have dropped from 2,600 in 2009 to 1,400.
The change is believed conducive to standardizing the process of drug bidding and purchasing, ensuring essential drug supply and enhancing the entire monitoring process, authorities with the ministry said.
In order to fix the problem of insufficient medicine supply for children, nearly 200 of the 520 new essential medicines are especially set for children only in the new list, including vaccines for children listed in the national immunization scheme, according to the ministry.
It urged medical departments at all levels to perfect the system to guarantee supplies of basic drugs and report drug shortages in a timely manner.
The ministry also asked them to guarantee the supply and safety of essential medicines for treating serious diseases such as childhood leukemia, end-stage renal disease and lung cancer.
Grassroots health departments are encouraged to explore effective ways to reduce the prices of essential drugs and ensure drug supply and quality.
The ministry urged local hospitals and clinics to raise the use of essential medicines and the rate of reimbursement via standardizing prescription and giving priority to the use of essential drugs.
The ministry will also facilitate the national digital monitoring network that launched in 2010 in order to step up drug management.
According to the ministry, the essential medicine list is adjusted every three years with respect to changes in health demands.
The new list will be put into force on May 1.