China’s "opening up" has gained further momentum in the lifesciences sector with the Notice of Health and Family Planning Working Essentials for 2016 (the Notice) which was issued on 26 January 2016 by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China (the NHFPC). The Notice facilitates private investment in the sector. 

Pursuant to the Notice, the Chinese government will take action to advance the reform of China’s medical system by improving the national health insurance system, improving services in the industry and promoting innovation in the Chinese pharmaceutical science and technology community. In order to achieve these objectives, the following specific measures will be taken:

  • The government will act to optimise the policy environment for private medical institutions, as private investment in non-profit medical institutions is highly encouraged.
  • The process of disseminating information in the health industry will be accelerated, placing an emphasis on tele-medicine, online reservations, new payment methods, disease management, follow-ups and making inquiries for medical test results. 
  • A unified national health insurance system for both rural and urban residents will be established. Commercial insurance agencies are encouraged to participate in handling services.
  • Pharmaceutical centralised purchasing will be fully implemented in public hospitals. The coverage of the price negotiation regime will be expanded and the prices of patented and exclusively produced drugs will be reduced.
  • All public hospitals within the scope of the reform will be required to cancel the drug price addition regime.

A number of the measures tie in with other reforms that the Chinese government have recently initiated, indicating a broad policy focus. For example, new regulations have been implemented to improve the coverage of the health insurance system and a focus on private investment in hospitals has been a recurring topic in a number of opinions and regulations. The Notice therefore works to compliment a number of reforms which form part of the wider opening up in the lifesciences industry. 

For further details, please see here (Chinese only).