Online sales of fake drugs targeted

08:28, January 19, 2011      

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More than 60 tons of fake drugs and substandard equipment valued at 40 million yuan ($6.08 million) are destroyed in a cement plant in Beijing on Tuesday during the city's campaign to combat counterfeit medicine. (Photo/China Daily)

Online sales of fake drugs have become the target of an intellectual property rights violation crackdown.

"We've noticed a proliferation of such illegal activities in cyberspace in recent years and have decided to prioritize combating them," State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) deputy director Bian Zhenjia said on Tuesday.

Bian said drug administrators at all levels nationwide investigated 81 major cases in 2010 in close cooperation with public security departments.

Beijing Drug Administration spokesman Yuan Lin said online channels posed new challenges to anti-counterfeiting efforts.

Dubious Web ads have duped members of the public with false information about drugs and medical equipment said to be able to cure chronic or untreatable diseases, such as kidney problems, cardiovascular diseases or cancer, Yuan said.

They also infringe on the reputations of established medical institutes, such as the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. Well-known pharmaceutical producers, such as Pfizer Inc, Bayer Group and Tongrentang Chinese Medicine Co, have also fallen victims, Yuan added.

Rampant online fraud can have grave consequences.

But it is difficult to track down offenders and bring the Internet under firm control. The problem becomes complicated when offenders locate their Web servers outside of China, Yuan said.

"It is all too often that shortly after we shut down one operation, another one - or more - will pop up," Yuan said.

Yuan said coordinated efforts are needed, especially from Internet supervision agencies, to conduct joint inspections.

On Tuesday, the Beijing Drug Administration announced progress in the anti-counterfeit drug campaign in 2010. It also destroyed more than 60 tons of confiscated fake medical equipment worth more than 40 million ($6.08 million) in Beijing's suburban Changping district.

The Beijing Drug Administration has cooperated with the municipal public security bureau to detain more than 100 suspects while investigating seven cases involving the production and sale of counterfeit and substandard drugs, the administration's deputy head Cong Luoluo said.

The administration on Dec 20 shut down five production lines and destroyed 60 illegal bases that had sold fake drugs via express delivery companies. The producers posted false ads online, using the names of renowned pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and research institutes.

The SFDA is using 280 million yuan from the central government and 4.4 million yuan from local governments to establish a system at all administrative levels employing skilled inspectors with advanced equipment.

Authorities of drug administration have also been trying to provide timely online updates on relevant laws, regulations and cases to raise consumer awareness.

Li Yao contributed to this story.

By Bao Daozu, China Daily
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