Wu defends crackdown on bogus drugs and underground radio

(HK Edition)
Updated: 2010-04-16 08:12
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'Premier' insists filtering airwaves not meant to curb the pharmaceutical industry or freedom of speech

Wu Den-yih, the head of the Executive Yuan, said Thursday that strengthening crackdowns on counterfeit drugs and underground radio stations was not meant to hurt the pharmaceutical industry or suppress freedom of speech, but, instead, to protect the public's health.

Underground radio stations in Taiwan sometimes broadcast advertisements for fake or substandard medicine, and Wu issued a directive earlier this year asking authorities to report to him every week from April 1 on the progress of their crackdowns.

From January 1 to April 14, police discovered 65 cases involving the sale of unlicensed drugs and arrested eight suspects, the "Ministry of Justice" reported at an Executive Yuan meeting earlier Thursday.

The "National Communications Commission" (NCC) said the number of active underground radio stations had dropped to 27 as of April 13, compared to a record high of 190 in 2008.

The NCC also said that beginning this week, it will work overtime and intensify its crackdown to include those underground radio stations that broadcast only on the weekend.

In addition, the NCC will provide information to the Construction and Planning Agency under the "Ministry of the Interior" so that illegal radio stations' broadcast-tower antennas can be removed within a month.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported that from April 1 to April 13, local public health bureaus uncovered nine cases involving the possession of unlicensed medicine and handed out 13 fines. The bureaus also administered sanctions for 323 cases involving the illegal advertising of counterfeit medications and food products.

Speaking at the Executive Yuan meeting, Wu reiterated that it is the government's responsibility to eradicate the sale of unlicensed drugs and that every department should continue to work diligently toward that goal.

China Daily/CNA

(HK Edition 04/16/2010 page4)