Some middle-aged and elderly consumers reported: licorice tablets, yeast tablets, three yellow tablets... Some classic old medicines are "out of stock", "not recommended", and "difficult to order online"

  These medicines are cheap and easy to use, why can't they buy them in pharmacies?

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  Is the familiar "cheap medicine" really disappearing?

Is it still available in pharmacies?

A reporter from the Workers’ Daily conducted an investigation to verify.

  In mid-July this year, my country’s fifth batch of nationally organized drug procurement results was officially announced. 61 drugs were successfully purchased, with an average price reduction of 56%, including drugs for common diseases and chronic diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.

  Many netizens said that this is of great significance to the survival of classic cheap drugs. “It’s not easy to buy cheap and easy-to-use drugs now, and the prices of terminal drugs are getting higher and higher!”

  Is the familiar "cheap medicine" really disappearing?

Is it still available in pharmacies?

To this end, a reporter from the Workers’ Daily conducted an investigation to verify.

  Or disappear, or be placed in the corner

  Licorice tablets, paracetamol, chlorpheniramine, yeast tablets, three yellow tablets, red syrup... Some middle-aged and elderly consumers report that these once familiar, cheap and easy-to-use medicines seem to be fading out of public view.

"Very cheap medicines are usually placed in the corner, and it is difficult to order even online."

  "Workers Daily" reporters visited many pharmacies in Beijing and found that some medicines are really difficult to buy, such as anti-allergic promethazine and Zengxiaoliansu tablets for anti-inflammatory; some medicines have changed dosage forms or changed to compound medicines. Later, the price was raised and re-listed; some were placed in a difficult to find position and were not recommended, such as Sanhuang tablets for reducing fire, yeast tablets for treating indigestion, and vitamin C tablets.

  In response, pharmacy sales staff said that many old drugs have disappeared, partly as a result of natural elimination.

"Chlorpheniramine is the first-generation antihistamine drug, but people often suffer from severe sleepiness after taking it, so it is replaced by the subsequent second and third generations of loratadine and montelukast. Another example is acetaminophen ( Paracetamol) is indeed a very effective anti-fever medicine, but its effect is single. Now our commonly used Gankang and Kangtaike actually contain acetaminophen, but at the same time it also contains ingredients for treating colds. It’s better."

  "As for licorice tablets, it is not easy to buy now because they contain opioids, so they are included in prescription drugs. There are many such drugs," said the salesperson.

  "Cheap medicine? Can't afford it!"

  "Now the cost of pharmaceutical raw materials has increased several dozen times!" Ms. Zhang, a salesperson at a chain pharmacy who asked not to be named, told reporters that if we want to investigate the root cause of the disappearance of most cheap drugs, it is money.

  "The pricing remains unchanged and the cost is rising. Now manufacturers simply can't afford it." Ms. Zhang said that the people have their own psychological expectations for the pricing of many'cheap drugs'. Repackage the medicine, change the vest, and re-market the product.

  In this regard, Shi Lichen, head of the Beijing Dingchen Pharmaceutical Management Consulting Center, believes that the retail market is a market where enterprises set their own prices and is a fully competitive market, and prices change with the state of competition.

Pharmaceuticals are used as commodities in the retail market, and their production, pricing and circulation will all affect the final pricing.

"Take the circulation of medicines as an example. Pharmacies definitely like drugs with high profit margins. For ordinary medicines like pharmacies, it is basically certain that more than 50% of the profit will be sold. If the profit margins are low, the circulation link will not be profitable. Shi Lichen pointed out that pharmacies of this kind of cheap drugs also have a small amount of purchases, and some pharmacies simply do not purchase them, so as to avoid overstocking and waste of goods.

  The changes in the consumer market have also forced the upgrading of medicines to a certain extent.

Ms. Wang, the person in charge of a chain pharmacy in Liaoning Province, believes: “Many cheap drugs may only be found in big cities, but they continue to exist in surrounding counties and cities because this part of the market is already shrinking. Different groups have different medication habits. Nowadays, most young people do not accept simple packaging. Usually only middle-aged and elderly people will deliberately pursue cheap classic medicines. Therefore, it is no longer a strong circulation product and will naturally not be favored by pharmacies."

  "Cheap medicine" has low returns, who will do it

  "Oryzanol, cod liver oil, vitamin D, promethazine, berberine... These drugs are indeed reduced in production due to low prices, and there are real difficulties in hospital procurement." Director Wu of the medical bureau of a third-class hospital in Liaoning said bluntly that the old drugs are still in use. A considerable part is worth keeping.

  "For example, Northeast Pharmaceutical has been producing vitamin C tablets." Director Wu said that some companies insist on producing some low-priced drugs because of their social responsibility and corporate image.

Mr. Li, who was in charge of the promotion business at Pfizer, also revealed that some drugs, such as Actinomycin D, will be put into production again with the support of the government after the production of some drugs has been discontinued because of their remarkable efficacy and high demand from patients.

  "Now some departments of the country are trying to use the method of bidding for basic medicines to'understand' the prices of some pharmaceutical companies." Ms. Zhang said, but relying solely on national price cuts and corporate responsibilities to control the falsely high drug prices and maintain the basics Production often has limited results.

She pointed out that the current homogeneity competition of drugs is serious, and frequent changes in specifications and dosage forms can easily make it difficult for the country's price reduction policy to be implemented.

After some products are forced to lower their prices, they may be re-listed after changing the product regulations, and the people still suffer.

  "Therefore, the real solution lies in whether such cheap drugs can be included in the medical insurance catalog as much as possible." Shi Lichen believes, "Because the drug retail market is a fully competitive market, it is less affected by policies and can be found in pharmacies. There will be fewer and fewer cheap medicines in the future. Only by including these low-cost medicines in the coverage of medical insurance can its continuous production and sales be ensured. In this way, at least patients can buy the corresponding medicines at community health service centers."

  Reporter: Wang Yu and Shi Hongyu