China to Cut Prices of More Than 400 Drugs by Average 15%

China will cut the maximum retail prices of more than 400 varieties of drugs by an average 15 percent, including products from Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Novartis AG (NOVN) and Merck & Co. (MRK), to reduce health-care costs in the nation.

The changes, effective Feb. 1, will cover drugs used for respiratory diseases and pain relief, as well as other specialized medicines, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website.

This is the fourth set of state-mandated price adjustments since 2011, with earlier cuts for drugs including antibiotics, vaccines and cancer medicines, the NDRC said. The government wants to reduce medical costs for China’s aging population, through means such as requiring hospitals derive as much as half their drug sales from cheaper essential medicines, Shanghai Securities News said today, citing Health Minister Chen Zhu.

Among the products affected are Merck’s asthma treatment Singulair, Pfizer’s Zyvox, an antibiotic, as well as Novartis’s epilepsy drug Trileptal, according to a list of prices released by the government.

Prices of higher-end drugs will be reduced an average 20 percent in the latest adjustment, while some cheaper items that face limited supply will have their prices raised to encourage production, the NDRC said.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Daryl Loo in Beijing at dloo7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at j.gale@bloomberg.net

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