Summary of Chinese People Go to Great Lengths for Medical Treatment

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In less than four days in June 2018, the Chinese movie Dying to Survive made ¥1.2 billion ($180 million) at the box office, surpassing the first-week sales record the patriotic action film Wolf Warrior 2 set in 2017. The satirical comedy about a group of cancer patients and a businessperson trying to smuggle low-cost generic drugs from India clearly resonated with the Chinese people, who regularly struggle to get the medicine and health care they need. As the public flocks to theaters, China’s broken health care system has entered public debate, and the government has rushed to respond with a commitment toward regulating drug prices. But –as governments all over the world can attest – fixing a health system is no easy task. In this article featured on finance author Wu Xiaobo’s WeChat wemedia account, writer Ba Jiu Ling stresses that the problem with China’s health care system goes beyond the pricing of drugs. getAbstract recommends this article to health care policymakers, executives in the pharmaceutical industry and anyone interested in health care systems around the world.

About the Author

Ba Jiu Ling is staff writer for Wu Xiaobo’s Channel, a WeChat wemedia account run by business opinion leader and finance author Wu Xiaobo.



Even manageable and treatable types of cancer could still be a death sentence in China where many lifesaving medicines are not available and treatments are often outdated. The Chinese government is slow to approve new medicines. Chinese doctors, for example, still prescribe the first generation of drugs to combat lung cancer while the United States is currently testing the fourth generation of those drugs. From 2001 to 2016, the Chinese government approved only 30% of the 433 new drugs which developed nations around the world approved. 

The lack of resources vis-á-vis the huge demand represents another life-threatening problem with the health care system. The more reputable cancer hospitals in China have huge lines for testing. One patient had to wait 20 days do to an MRI. That time span gives aggressive cancers time to spread throughout the body. Delayed diagnosis and lack of access to effective medication has dramatically decreased the survival rate of patients with severe illnesses in China. Data from the National Cancer Institute show that the average five-year survival rate of cancer patients in China is 30.9% compared with 66% ...