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Cash for Prescription

21 October 2006

January Last year, little Chinese boy Dongdong lost his battle against Thalassemia and passed away. What saddens his parents most is that his death was not caused by the illness but the treatment that meant to cue the illness.

It all started when Dongdong’s mom spotted an online advertisement on the official website of a Guangzhou hospital, proclaiming a 93 percent of success rate for marrow transplant operation done by Doctor Zhu, a senior pediatrician at the hospital. She applied.

Prior to and after the operation, Doctor Zhu urged her to purchase an important super drug from a man surnamed Wang, priced at massive 4500 yuans a dose. Shortly after taking the drug, the boy developed a complication – he began vomiting and urinating blood up to 40 times a day, which eventually killed him.

Dongdong is not alone. Between July 2004 and September 2005, Doctor Zhu performed marrow transplant on 15 children, from which he pocketed 4000 yuans of gift cashes from the parents, not counting the commissions he got from that fake drug smuggler Wang.

It is up to his young patients and their families to bear the grave consequences of his cold-blooded acts. Some families have to sell their property or run into huge debts to pay the medical bills that amount to as much as 900,000 yuans. But this is nothing comparing to the young lives lost. Of 15 his patients, 9 died, thanks to his fake super drug.

Yet this is not an isolated case.

Medical practitioners, particularly those dominant Western Medicine heavyweights, are viewed by many Chinese as one of the most corrupt groups in today’s China – just a little behind the property developers - and cash for prescription practice is common. A few years back during the Sars crisis they were called White Angles, now they’re more frequently referred as White Snakes.

Early this year, when China’s Health Ministry finally decided to take an action, 200 million yuans of drug commission were forced to hand over. But this is believed to be only the tip of the iceberg.

Yet the greed demonstrated by some of them are just boundless. In order to achieve a total dominance of the market, they keep lobbying for eliminating the cost effective Chinese Herbal Medicine that Chinese people have relied on for health care for thousands of years. In a recent farcical petition drama initiated by an America-based Western Medicine doctor and a philosophy teacher in China that calls for the exclusion of the Chinese Medicine from the national health care system, the majority of the signature bearers, as it is disclosed, are the Western Medicine practitioners.

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