Chinese survey of device industry practices draws suspicion

A medical tech industry group backed by the Chinese government is surveying foreign and local companies on their pricing and business practices in the world's most populous nation. Some see the move as suspicious in the face of China's ongoing corruption probe of the pharmaceutical industry's allegedly suspect behavior there.

Reuters reports that the China Commerce Ministry's antimonopoly bureau commissioned the survey, and the government-backed China Association for Medical Devices Industry (CAMDI) distributed it to its 3,000 members. The move follows word earlier this month that regulators in China were investigating how higher-end medical consumables and equipment are used in Beijing, in order to fight their misuse and overuse.

Two anonymous sources told Reuters that the survey is unusual, in part because it is seeking a vivid amount of detail, such as asking about the value of imported goods. Other questions seek details about price points for goods companies sold to distributors. Price hikes or decreases, product quality, product volume, workforce size and production cost questions are also reportedly in the mix, the article notes.

Xu Shan, deputy director of international cooperation for CAMDI, told Reuters she did not know of any formal investigation into med tech, and that the survey didn't ask any corruption questions. But in a sign of things to come, she is quoted as saying that "in the future there will be even stricter rules" that could target things such as "commercial bribery."

In other words, a detailed survey could be a bad sign for the global medical device industry's ongoing advance into the Chinese market. News of the survey follows a number of probes in China targeting the pharmaceutical sector, with a specific look at corruption and price fixing as the country focuses on lowering healthcare costs. In one probe just this week, officials in China arrested a British investigator who reportedly worked with pharma companies, along with his wife. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is among the drug companies under investigation there.

- read the Reuters story

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