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Watchdog Steps up Policing of Pharmaceuticals Market
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In an effort to prevent incidents involving fake drugs and medical equipment China's pharmaceutical watchdog launched a six-month long national campaign on Tuesday to improve the policing of the industries.  


At a national meeting in Beijing, State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) leaders told branch officials to increase supervision of license applications and the production, distribution and use of drugs, vaccines and medical equipment.


Drug companies supplying misleading information on their license applications would be blacklisted and publicly named. Those with inadequate management, operating illegally or those putting the safety of drugs in production at risk would be punished, an SFDA official said.


Drugs packaging, labels and instructions should ensure that chemical names are more prominent than commercial product titles to help the public avoid paying inflated prices for common medicines.


The SFDA also urged improved surveillance and reporting of negative effects or incidents involving drugs or medical equipment and a stepping up of coordination with health departments in publicity and management of drugs in clinical use.


Drug and food safety was crucial to people's lives and their supervision and inspection required constant effort and attention, said Vice Premier Wu Yi in a letter delivered to the meeting.


The campaign is due to start in June and "must achieve progress", said Shao Mingli, head of the SFDA.


Nine people died earlier this month and two others are still fighting for their lives after receiving fake drugs in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. They received injections of a fake drug supposed to have been "Armillarisni A" produced by the Qiqihar No.2 Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a private manufacturer based in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. Two people involved in that incident remain in a critical condition after falling into comas.


The government closed the company down and banned the sale of all its products after the incident was revealed. Efforts are also being made to trace and recall drugs.


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao ordered government departments to launch a thorough investigation into the incident and intensify the regulation of pharmaceutical markets.


(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2006)

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