In a bid to improve its food and drug safety, China has announced it will invest 8.8 billion yuan (US$1.16 billion)


Hepeng Jia/ Beijing, China 

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, spokesperson for China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), declared the investment and other measures to improve drug and food quality at a press 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; equip drug control institutes in 16 Chinese port cities with biological testing facilities; renovate the national centres for medical device testing; establish a national monitoring system for adverse drug reactions; and provide facilities for SFDA branches in the poor regions of western China. 

Besides the investment, Yan also revealed the 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.  

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 long prison sentences.  

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

While fatal reactions to fake drugs are easy to spot, most poor quality drugs remain unidentified 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. 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.