China's State Council, the central government, has warned local governments against interfering with the law enforcement duties of pharmaceutical administration departments.
A circular from the General Office of the State Council instructed local governments to cooperate with drug watchdogs and make safety a priority.
"Local governments have the ultimate responsibility for drug safety in their jurisdictions ... and should regularly assess and analyze the drug safety situation," the State Council said.
It also asked local governments to set up a "strict" accountability system. "Leading officials should face administrative discipline and prosecution if their negligence leads to serious drug safety incidents."
China's pharmaceutical industry has become poor public image, with the spread of fake and unsafe medicines and hospitals selling unnecessary drugs to patients to pad out their income.
The the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), which has come under criticism for failing in its duty, has promised to tighten controls on pharmaceutical products.
From last August to February, the SFDA revoked the approval of 353 medicines, and 3,049 applications for new drugs were turned down.
The State Council said drug administrative departments should continue to tighten control of the registration of new medicines and improve supervision of the research, production, distribution and usage of pharmaceutical products.
Drug administrative departments should perform their duties in line with the law, maintain public trust and ensure safe and effective pharmaceutical products are provided to the public, the State Council said in the circular.
(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2007)