Government agencies tackle growing 'fake drugs' problem


In a bid to improve its food and drug safety, China has announced it will invest 8.8 billion yuan (US$1.16 billion) in the coming four years to improve its food and drug inspection and monitoring infrastructure.

Yan Jiangying, the spokesperson for China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), declared the investment and other measures to improve drug and food quality at a news conference on 8 August.

The money, with 6.3 billion yuan (US$833 million) coming from central government and the rest from local governments, will be used to relocate and upgrade the National Institutes for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products (NICPBP), equip biological testing facilities to drug control institutes in 16 Chinese port cities, renovate the national centres for medical device testing, and establish a national monitoring system for adverse drug reactions.

In addition, the investment will also cover the cost to provide experimental and office facilities to SFDA’s branches in the poor regions of western China.

Besides the investment, Yan also revealed its agency is finalising details to implement a statute released by the State Council in late July, which is aimed at strengthening the safety management of food and medical products. A key part of the new statute is to streamline the functions and responsibility of different Chinese agencies in food and drug quality management. 

Fatal accidents

Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of SFDA, was executed in July 10 due to corruption and negligence of duties. Several senior SFDA officials in charge of drug and medical equipment approvals were punished with severe imprisonment sentences. 

Accompanying the fall of Zheng and his colleagues, China’s food and drug management has been blamed for several fatal accidents caused by false or poor-quality drugs and other products. 

While fatal reactions to fake drugs are simple to identify, most poor quality drugs remain hidden because they merely reduce the effectiveness of the treatment, said Zhu Changhao, executive chairman of the Chinese Association of Pharmaceutical Commerce.

’With improved equipment in grassroots drug inspection, it is easier to identify these under-standard medicines,’ Zhu told Chemistry World. But he adds that operators will need more training on how to use the new equipment.

However, Yang Yue, an associate professor of drug management at Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, said that the proposed system to monitor adverse medical effects will be more important than new equipment, as it enables drug regulators to detect possible drug accidents before they happen.

Hepeng Jia

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