Set exorbitant prices – the Chinese are now competing for Paxlovid on the black market


The huge health crisis surrounding the supply of medicines in the current corona wave forces many Chinese to use dubious channels. For example, where the corona drug Paxlovid is difficult to obtain through official channels, the preparation is now offered on the gray market at exorbitant prices. Many people therefore try to buy the drug on the black market.

A resident of southern China’s Hainan province told Reuters he paid 20,000 yuan ($3,000) for two packages for his parents. “If your relatives are in need, they will find it cheap because anything is better than going to the hospital now,” he said. “I know people who paid 20,000 yuan for a box of the drug.”

Hard to get money
Paxlovid is one of the few foreign corona drugs approved in China. It will be covered by state insurance until the end of March, so patients will theoretically only have to pay 198 yuan (about 27 euros) and therefore one tenth of the usual price. Alternatively, Paxlovid can be purchased for 2170 yuan and more by prescription through online platforms – but there it usually sells out in a very short time.

Since the Chinese authorities do not provide information on supply quantities and distribution channels, most patients rely on media reports, word of mouth or imports through unauthorized channels. In many cases, the drug comes from Hong Kong and partly from the United States, some of those involved told Reuters.

Popular gift: worth more than expensive liquor
An analyst at a Chinese securities company said his boss stocked up on Paxlovid in Hong Kong to give away to customers because it’s worth more than a popular expensive drink. “It’s a better gift than Moutai.” Beijing has admitted that Paxlovid’s stocks are not yet sufficient to meet demand.

According to Pfizer boss Albert Bourla, the American pharmaceutical company is working with the Chinese authorities to ensure sufficient supplies in China. Pfizer shipped thousands of units to the country last year and millions more in recent weeks.

Breaking free caused chaos
China’s finance ministry, meanwhile, announced on Monday that it would increase funding for the prevention and control of Covid diseases. In addition, local tax offices should increase transfer payments to rural and poor areas. In the world’s second-largest economy, the number of corona infections has skyrocketed after the government relaxed its strict corona restrictions last month.

Airfinity, which specializes in health data, estimated in December that China will need 49 million treatment units from Paxlovid over the next five months — more than 22 million in January alone.

Source: Krone


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