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New monitoring rules will help fight drug shortages

By Wang Xiaodong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-26 07:28

China will improve the monitoring of drugs that are prone to short supply to ensure they can be replenished quickly, according to a new national guideline.

The guideline's drug regulations are aimed at addressing irregularities in the production and circulation of drugs and improving the quality and efficiency of drugs, Wang Hesheng, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said on Wednesday.

The guideline was drafted by the State Council's Health Reform Office and the China Food and Drug Administration. Wang said the guideline has been approved and will be released soon.

He said that under the guideline, authorities will take various steps, such as improving oversight of the production of drugs and expediting approval of new drugs, to improve the quality of drugs available for use.

The guideline also emphasizes streamlining the circulation of drugs between pharmaceutical companies and hospitals to reduce the price of drugs and control the increase of drug expenditures, Wang said.

Periodic reports of short supplies of commonly used drugs, including essential drugs, in many parts of China have stirred public attention in recent years.

Protamine sulfate, an injection necessary for some operations including heart surgeries, was reported by media in April to be in short supply in many areas of China, forcing many hospitals to temporarily suspend heart surgeries.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission responded in May that pharmaceutical companies in China had suspended production of the drug at the end of 2015 due to new standards released by health authorities, causing a shortage.

It took measures to encourage production of the drug so it could be quickly supplied to the market again, the commission said in its May statement.

Wu Zhen, head of the China Food and Drug Administration, said on Wednesday that many drugs in short supply are especially for children.

Guo Xiang, deputy director of consumer goods at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the ministry has selected seven kinds of drugs for children's use and has authorized pharmaceutical companies since last year to produce them to ensure the needed supply.

The ministry invested 80 million yuan last year to help increase the supply of drugs for children's use, he said.

Fu Mingzhong, executive president of the China Association of Pharmaceutical Commerce, said a national data platform on the monitoring of drugs should be established to address the shortage of drugs in China.

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