China to crack down on il­le­gal on­line drugs

Search en­gines, e- com­merce firms asked to help root out fake ven­dors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By Wang Qingyun wangqingyun@ chi­

The China Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion and four other State-level de­part­ments plan to crack down on il­le­gal on­line drug­stores and sim­i­lar chan­nels in a move to reg­u­late on­line medicine sales.

It said on Tues­day it will co­op­er­ate with the State In­ter­net In­for­ma­tion Of­fice, the Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity, and the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for In­dus­try and Com­merce to root out il­le­gal on­line sales of medicine, es­pe­cially fake drugs.

The most com­mon fake cures are claimed to treat dis­eases such as can­cer, di­a­betes, coro­nary heart dis­ease, hy­per­ten­sion and sex­ual dys­func­tion, so those kinds of medicine will get spe­cial at­ten­tion, ac­cord­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The food and drug ad­min­is­tra­tion asked search en­gines and e-com­merce com­pa­nies to de­tect such vi­o­la­tions, com­pile a list of those re­spon­si­ble and re­port them to med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion au­thor­i­ties.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­plaints cen­ter and the China In­ter­net Il­le­gal In­for­ma­tion Re­port­ing Cen­ter will also take con­sumer com­plaints about il­le­gal on­line drug sales. Peo­ple can dial 12331 or 12377 to re­port such com­plaints.

In­ter­net man­age­ment au­thor­i­ties will lo­cate the ven­dors con­cerned and tell lo­cal gov­ern­ments to in­ves­ti­gate their busi­nesses.

Search en­gines and e-com­merce com­pa­nies should also rear­range the or­der in which search re­sults are dis­played by putting qual­i­fied on­line drug stores up top, and block­ing or elim­i­nat­ing links to web­sites sus­pected of il­le­gally sell­ing medicines.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has ap­proved the op­er­a­tion of 95 on­line drug­stores, which hold Cer­tifi­cates of On­line Medicine Trade Ser­vice, al­low­ing med­i­cal au­thor­i­ties to trace their busi­ness records, ad­min­is­tra­tion spokes­woman Yan Jiangy­ing said at a news con­fer­ence in July.

“The first thing for any­one go­ing to buy medicines on­line is to check if the store has a Cer­tifi­cate of On­line Medicine Trade Ser­vice,” she said.

In late Fe­bru­ary, the ad­min­is­tra­tion signed an agree­ment with Baidu, a Chi­nese search engine com­pany, to fil­ter il­le­gal and fake on­line in­for­ma­tion on medicines.

Baidu now iden­ti­fies the on­line drug­stores ap­proved by the ad­min­is­tra­tion and puts them at the top of its pages to avoid of­fer­ing fake ven­dors.

The govern­ment will sus­pend op­er­a­tions of stores found in­volved in il­le­gal trade, and those who don’t cor­rect their be­hav­ior within a set time will have their li­censes re­voked, ac­cord­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan.

The govern­ment will also hold ac­cess ser­vice providers ac­count­able if they find a web­site sell­ing medicines il­le­gally does not have an In­ter­net Con­tent Provider li­cense is­sued by the Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy.

Liang Yongqiang, pres­i­dent of a phar­macy chain store group that owns an on­line drug­store, wel­comed the move.

“The il­le­gal medicine busi­ness poses a threat to peo­ple’s health, and it has de­creased cus­tomers’ trust so some dare not buy medicines on­line.”

Liu Honghui, a lawyer in Bei­jing, sug­gested the govern­ment should be sure to check the con­tent of a web­site be­fore is­su­ing it an In­ter­net Con­tent Provider li­cense.

“A web­site may change its con­tent af­ter get­ting the ICP li­cense, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for govern­ment su­per­vi­sion, thus the ac­cess ser­vice providers and peo­ple us­ing the In­ter­net should re­port if they find web­sites do­ing il­le­gal busi­ness such as sell­ing fake drugs,” Liu said.

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