MHW to set up ‘phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal cloud’

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY STEPHANIE CHAO

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

In

re­sponse

to

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.

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