November 3, 2005

New laws recently introduced in China will make it harder for consumers to get hold of medications such as tranquillisers or painkillers. It is hoped that the new initiative will cut down on drug abuse in the country.

The regulations will strictly cover the procedure — from production to prescription — for all anaesthetics or potentially addictive medicines indicated to treat mental illness. Patients will only be able to acquire the drugs form licensed institutions or doctors who are qualified to prescribe the products. Purchasing such treatments from drug stores or from the internet will be considered illegal.

Under the new system, patient groups eligible for such medicines will be clearly defined and will include sufferers of chronic illnesses such as cancer. China's State Food & Drug Administration has vowed to hunt down those involved in drug abuse and halt illegal production and transactions. However, industry sources fear that with the proliferation of "unauthorised" generics in the country, and the growing counterfeit drug trade, this could prove a difficult task.