MHW to set up ‘pharmaceutical cloud’
Following the stomach medicine scandal that was brought to light during an investigation into pepper products tainted by industrial- grade chemicals, Health and Welfare Minister Chiang Been- huang ( ) unveiled plans yesterday to the Legislative Yuan that the Ministry of Health and Welfare ( MHW,
) is to establish a cloud database to manage the nation’s pharmaceutical state of affairs by the end of the year.
Chiang revealed the ministry is currently constructing a cloud system, to which pharmaceutical enterprises and factories can upload product information and related GMP certificate documents. The ministry hopes this can improve the efficiency of future investigations.
“Hospitals and factories can begin submitting their product information starting from July 1,” said the FDA’s medicine chief Liu Li- ling ( ) , further noting that the ministry aims to connect the “pharmaceutical cloud” with other related cloud databases, such as those organizing information held by enterprises, manufacturers and medicine circulation by next year.
Enough Medicine in Stock
Despite Recall: FDA
The Food and Drug Administration’s ( FDA, ) Chiang Yu-mei ( ) also said that the nation has an abundant stock of medicine, which is said to include around 1.5 million calcium carbonate tablets supplied by four certified pharmaceutical companies, in response to concerns of an insufficient supply caused by the mass recall.
Concerns include a shortage of medicine for patients on dialysis, who are reliant on calcium carbonate-made medication. The FDA replied that medical institutions have sufficient substitute medicines in stock.
Chiang also pointed out that the pharmaceutical industry is reputed for its competitiveness; therefore companies would be lining up to snag a spot in the market.
“It’s a supply and demand mechanism, so we’re not concerned about insufficient medicine stock,” said Chiang.
Chiang said that medicine prices were stable for now, according to FDA reports. He further reassured the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee that the FDA will continue to conduct price comparison exercises.
Yet, legislators also brought other concerns to the table regarding other stomach medicine ingredients — such as sodium bicarbonate — that could also unleash similar complications and become potentially problematic substances.
The MHW revealed that it lacks the necessary information to determine which kind of pharmaceutical-grade ingredients are more likely to be used as food-grade ingredients in medicine production.
“The ministry will begin discussions with experts in two weeks’ time, after addressing and finishing the investigation into the recent medicine scandal, where medicines were found to be tainted with illegal calcium and magnesium carbonate,” said FDA’s Liu in response.
‘ Don’t Rely on Selfmedication’: MHW chief
legislators’ accusations that the MHW had failed in its supervision of pharmaceutical industries nationwide, the MHW admitted that in the past, investigations had concentrated on factories’ system control and high- risk medicine. The MHW had relied on companies to self- manage their lowrisk medicine production, which included products such as stomach medicine.
“Stomach medicines were never really on our radar for investigation in the past,” the FDA said.
Health officials also pointed out a worrying trend among Taiwan citizens, reporting that 2.2 billion stomach medicine pills were consumed in 2013, according to FDA statistics.
“The nation requires a more thorough understanding of medication usage,” Chiang opined, “Patients should not always rely on over- the- counter medicine or self- medicate, and should visit a hospital when symptoms get out of hand.”
In other news, health officials also announced that advertisements of illegal products would no longer be broadcast.