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The ultimate choice (2)

By Wang Ru (China Daily)

09:45, August 30, 2012

While ceasing treatment is a controversial topic, overmedication, especially to patients with incurable illnesses, has become a huge social and economic burden.

According to Ministry of Health statistics, total public health expenses increased 13.6 percent from 2005 to 2010, reaching 1.96 trillion yuan ($308 billion). By 2020, health expenses are expected to take up 6.5-7 percent of GDP.

Overmedication is one of the major reasons for this increase.

In 2011, Wu Yilong, director of Guangdong Cancer Prevention and Treatment Center, told media that over 70 percent of cancer medication is useless.

According to Ye Yaping, physician at Center for Cancer Biotherapy of Xinqiao Hospital in Chongqing, about one third of cancer patients eventually die from inappropriate treatment, or overtreatment.

A doctor at a Beijing hospital, who refused to disclose his name, reveals that tumor departments and hospitals often over prescribe medication.

"Many patients with late period cancer undergo chemotherapy, which is useless, causes much suffering and causes their condition to deteriorate," the doctor says.

"Most medicines are imported and very expensive, but the patients' families have to pay. It is unnecessary and a huge economic burden, especially for those without medical insurance."

Han Dabai, 68, a lung cancer survivor, founded a patients' club in Jinan, Shandong province, in 1999.

"They put hope in so-called new treatments that cost a lot of money to prolong their lives, but for most it was in vain and a waste of money that only caused more suffering," Han says.

"The quality of life is important. If I have to face death, I don't want to be a guinea pig for medicine and treatment, but to live naturally until the end," Han says.

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