Medicine can be as important as food. So its safety can never be
The execution of Zheng Xiaoyu, the former director of the State
Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), in July this year for taking
bribes for approving licenses for new drugs, signifies the
country's determination to crackdown on irregularities in the
entire process from approval of new drugs to their manufacture and
The action to overhaul the drug market has achieved expected
results, according to an official from SFDA at yesterday's press
conference. Altogether 7,300 applications for new drugs have been
rejected, nearly 300 plants manufacturing drugs and producing
medical appliances closed, and 120 approvals of advertisements for
drugs revoked in the past 18 months.
We get a double message from these figures: the overhaul has
indeed made great achievements; but it also shows how chaotic the
entire drug market is.
The clearing up of the multiple titles for one type of drug is a
serious task among others in the overhaul. More efforts are needed
to effectively check the unhealthy tendency of multiplying
different versions of the same drug just by altering the
combination of its ingredients. Such a practice has proved to be
rife among doctors bribed by drug salespeople to prescribe the
drugs they sell. It also increases the possibility of overuse of
antibiotics and other drugs by patients.
Despite the great achievements, the battle will continue between
the watchdogs and those drug manufacturers and salespeople. This is
a universal problem rather than one unique to China. It challenges
our government's capability to establish a sound system to stop
inferior and unsafe drugs from entering the market, and punish
those who attempt to benefit at the expense of people's lives.
We are happy to see that the overhaul nationwide also spares no
efforts in establishing a permanent monitoring and supervision
mechanism. This is exactly where hope lies for an orderly drug
(China Daily December 4, 2007)