China's research of the pharmaceutical service is still in a fledgling stage and is far from satisfying doctors or patients, medical chiefs said yesterday.
"With the deepening of medical care reform and improvement of people's health awareness, consumers and patients are demanding more knowledge on the use and choice of medicine," said Yuan Tianxi, vice-president of the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association (CPA), at a recent forum.
Statistics reveal at least 200,000 people in China died from an improper use of medicine each year, accounting for 11 percent to 26 percent of the total number who use medicine.
Pharmaceutical services, which involve every aspect of the pharmacy industry ranging from medicine production to circulation, exert a key influence on the results of medical treatment, he said.
"There lacks a legal definition for pharmaceutical services in Chinese law, regulations and documents related with medicine," said Xu Jiaqi, an official with the State Drug Administration.
He noted that a complete legal system concerning pharmaceutical services, as well as a self-discipline mechanism, have been established in many developed countries.
"Careful thinking should be given to the definition of medical services, which would be crucial to the work of medical units and medicine producers, dealers and chemists," he said. "An essential difference exists between the service of pharmaceuticals and of other commodities."
In addition, the nation should strengthen supervision of pharmaceutical services in advance, instead of retrospectively. Enhanced examination and appraisal of pharmacists and medical workers should be introduced to guarantee the safety of people who take medicines, he said.
To improve pharmaceutical services, unfair competition during the process of drug purchasing and sales should be stopped, said Liu Min, an official in charge of eliminating unfair competition under the State Administration of Industry and Commerce.
"Pharmaceutical enterprises should enhance training and their legal knowledge to resist the activities of unfair competition," she urged.
More effective measures of self-discipline should be adopted in the pharmaceutical services sector to ensure the market order of medicine purchasing and sales, said the official.
(China Daily March 21, 2003)