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Probe into pharma company's eyedrop claims long overdue

China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-07 09:11

DXY.COM, a popular medical advice website, recently released an article via its official micro blog saying Zhejiang Shapuaisi Pharmaceutical delayed many users' seeking proper treatment with its adverts claiming its eyedrops could prevent and cure cataracts. Southern Metropolis Daily comments:

If you turn on the TV, you will find advertisements for Shapuaisi's eyedrops on almost every channel. According to its annual financial report, the company spent 260 million yuan ($39.3 million) on advertising in 2016, while the money it spent on R&D was only 5.5 million yuan.

Shapuaisi introduced its eyedrops to the market in 1997, but although they have been rejected by the majority of hospitals and doctors, data from ophthalmologists show that about 90 percent of the seniors who accepted operations for cataracts had used the eyedrops before seeking professional help. Its huge investments in advertisements earned the company 750 million yuan last year alone.

Shapuaisi is already suspected of illegal advertising because its advertisements claim the eyedrops can prevent cataracts. A universally agreed fact among ophthalmologists is that no medicine can cure or prevent cataracts and the only way to cure this disease is a surgical operation.

During the whole process, the China Food and Drug Administration has not performed its role well. In 2004, Shapuaisi got official approval for its eyedrops to be an over-the-counter medicine rather than prescription only, which had been the case.

And in 2014, when Shapuaisi was applying to become a listed company, there were media reports about the company's false advertising and quality problems.

However, none of these efforts prevented Shapuaisi from continuing to make money with its unsubstantiated claims, until Dxy posted its article. It is time the China Food and Drug Administration performed its duty and investigated Shapuaisi.

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