Chinese doctors
profiting on free AIDS drugs

Despite a program
to provide no-cost antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive
people in China, patients are being forced to pay for their
treatment because of a "relentless drive for profit
within the Chinese health care system," The
Washington Post
reports. The AIDS epidemic in
China has "exposed how local profit-seeking" in the
country's health care system is undermining government
efforts to fight the disease.

Medical experts,
government officials, and patients say that Chinese
doctors at local hospitals who are responsible for
dispensing AIDS drugs are "exploiting those in
need, padding bills with unneeded drugs and dubious
services," the Post reports.

The government
launched the antiretroviral drug program, which aims to
supply 30,000 HIV-positive people with treatment by the end
of 2005, using a $95 million grant from the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. About
2,000 of the 19,000 patients who have received
antiretrovirals through the program have stopped taking them
because of side effects, including low blood pressure,
insomnia, and nausea, medical experts say. In
addition, many doctors prefer to "prescribe expensive
medicines than give away something for free," the
Post reports.

Tags: Health, Health

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