China in recent years has become the world’s largest home of internet users. Many Chinese now shop almost exclusively in internet bazaars that offer everything from groceries and hot meals to jewelry and cars. They can also buy pharmaceuticals — even the raw ingredients to illegally make drugs themselves.
Many start on forums devoted to patients and their loved ones when they can’t get answers anymore. The two most popular are “I Want Miracles,” which is dedicated to helping people with lung cancer, and “Dances With Cancer.” The forums combined have just over 440,000 members.
“This is the current state of health care in China,” said Chen Yun, who runs “I Want Miracles.” “Every doctor is just too busy, and there’s no way that they can explain many things to you clearly. But if you want to figure it out, you just have to learn by yourself.”...
Desperate to help his mother, Mr. Zhang did a basic search: “What to do after patient develops drug resistance on Iressa?” He happened upon “Dances With Cancer” and an active participant and a longtime cancer patient called “Bean Spirit,” who wrote a manual on how to make drugs at home.
Mr. Zhang, who previously worked at a pharmaceutical factory but was not involved in making drugs, started on his own version. He bought the ingredients for AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso, a lung cancer drug. He spent just over $150 for a month’s worth of ingredients, plastic capsules and an electronic scale.
“The raw ingredients are worth more than the price of gold,” he said.
When the drugs stopped working for his mother, Mr. Zhang began making others. He started having sleepless nights, worried that he would not be able to find the ingredients each time a drug stopped working.This is a really awful story (regrettably, the ending is not much better.) I haven't been able to find "I Want Miracles", but I have questions, e.g. are they obtaining actual API, or are they actually manufacturing raw materials? (I hope it's API, for their sake.)