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China Vows to Crack down on Fake Medical Ads
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The Chinese Ministry of Health has stepped up its inspections of medical institutions suspected of distributing fake medical advertisements.

From Dec. 1 to 31, local health authorities will not be allowed to issue certificates to medical institutions for distributing medical advertisements, said the ministry's spokesman Mao Qun'an at a press conference on Monday.

He said the illustration of medical techniques, treatment methods, patients or experts, the army and armed police and sure-fast guarantees of recovery would be banned from medical advertising.

China's medical advertising market has grown rapidly in recent years. The country's advertising business was worth 7.6 billion yuan (US$ 950 million) in 2005, ranking sixth in the world.

However, some adverts for fake medicines have misled consumers. In the first three quarters of last year, 11,000 irregular medical advertisements were reported. In the first nine months of this year, 4,644 cases were dealt with by the authorities.

Last month, China set out its regulations on medical advertisements in an attempt to put a stop to false and misleading advertising.

The new regulations, which will take effect on January 1, 2007, will eliminate exaggeration of the effects of certain medical treatments by banning the mention of any disease names.

An advertisement can reveal no more than the following information: name of the medical institution, its address and phone number, specialty and qualification, type of ownership, number of beds and opening hours, according to the regulations.

Medical advertisements will continue to be approved by provincial health authorities, but more emphasis will be placed on vetting the text used in the adverts to market the products.

The new regulations also increased the penalty for violating the law. In serious cases, medical institutions can be suspended or even have their licenses revoked.

(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2006)

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