China's food and drug watchdog has vowed to intensify crackdown on on-line illegal drug sales to enforce its supervision of Internet-based drug distribution.
Shao Mingli, State Food and Drug Administration director, revealed at a national food and drug supervision meeting Thursday that his administration will cooperate with other departments and administrations in striking on-line illegal drug selling. They are being assisted by local food and drug supervision agencies.
According to research by food and drug supervision agencies at all levels that were based on investigated cases, illegal Internet drug selling included pedaling medicines without authorization, exaggerated drug adverts, offering fake drugs or illegal drugs for mental illnesses and misrepresenting unapproved websites as legitimate ones.
According to the administration, there are only five authorized on-line drug outlets. Two are in Beijing, and the others are in Liaoning and Shandong provinces and Shanghai.
In China, the Internet has been used as a platform for illegal drug sales due to its purchasing convenience, low cost and consumer-to-consumer characteristics.
According to Shao, the administration has also made plans for cooperation with some popular web portals to help them self-police against illegal medicine adverts.
Currently, local food and drug supervision agencies have already initiated the awareness campaign.
In Shanghai, the local supervision agency uncovered 24 illegal drug sale websites from other provinces or regions. It has since passed on the information to the respective authorities.
It also gave warnings to seven unauthorized businesses with websites publishing illegal medicine adverts, shut down 21 websites for illegal drug sales and punished 15 websites for their unlawful sales activities.
Accordingly, the supervision departments at all levels warned consumers to consult with their doctors before buying medical products or medicine over the Internet. They should also refrain from buying from unauthorized websites, and to take care in giving information about their bank account numbers and codes on-line.
For detailed information about approved medicines and medical products, in addition to authorized suppliers, the public is encouraged to visit the State Food and Drug Administration website at www.sfda.gov.cn.
(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)