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China bars GSK from bulk-buy drug program for 18 months

By Natalie Grover

BEIJING/LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) – China has blocked GSK (GSK.L) from participating in its national bulk-buy drug procurement program from Oct. 31 until April 29, 2024 over quality problems with a prostate drug, the British drugmaker said on Monday.

First reported by CCTV state television, the ban was imposed by authorities after a batch of GSK’s prostate treatment – known chemically as dutasteride and sold under the brand name Avodart – made by a Polish contract manufacturer for GSK failed a recent quality check.

No other GSK products are supplied to China through the so-called volume-based procurement program, a company spokesperson told Reuters.

Avodart made around 300,000 pounds ($345,900) per year of sales in China, accounting for less than 1% of GSK’s total sales in the country, according to company figures.

Beijing runs the national scheme aimed at encouraging the uptake of generic drugs and bringing down the cost of medicines. As part of the program, drugmakers vie to sell their products in bulk at public hospitals.

GSK reported double-digit sales growth in China – which it described as a priority market – in its 2021 annual report.

($1 = 0.8673 pounds)

Reporting by Beijing newsroom and Brenda Goh and Natalie Grover in London Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: Reuters