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Open letter demands reform of prescription drug system

January 26, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Liu Feiyue, a teacher from Suizhou city in Hubei province, has drafted and circulated an open letter to the Chinese government demanding that it assume responsibility for safeguarding the health and lives of the Chinese people and calling for reform of the prescription drug system.

Among the 543 signatures to Liu’s letter, over 500 individuals signed using their own names. The open letter charged the pharmaceutical industry and the hospital system with colluding to inflate drug prices, stating that the Chinese people cannot afford costly drugs and that many who become ill can only “sit and wait to die.” Eight specific reforms were called for, including punishing the illegal inflation of drug prices, revising the policy that sets the ceiling price for drugs, and increasing government investment in public health.

Human Rights in China supports Liu and the over 500 petitioners who are taking action to protect the public interest. Through this letter, they not only call attention to Chinese people’s basic rights to life and health, but also aim to strengthen China’s human rights foundation as a whole.

“The protection of Chinese people’s basic rights to life and health is a responsibility that the PRC government cannot push off, and the government should immediately respond with measures to reduce the harm and injury caused by such policies,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. The text of the open letter in Chinese is attached to the Chinese press statement.