What is scary about this article is the last line, a fake batch of medicine for diabetes, something we need to worry about here too as some of the drugs we take are manufactured overseas. We have had those scares too here in the US, but it has mostly been over the counter drugs and not prescription drugs. We think we have advertising here in the US for pharmaceuticals, it appears it is a lot worse in China and most of the ones advertising are the companies in question. At least here we have the legit ones pounding us every night at the 6 PM news so far. BD
"Nowadays, Chinese people don't trust Chinese medications. They trust Western brands more as they have a better reputation," said Huang Jianshi, Assistant President of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College.
Foreign drug companies such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Pfizer Inc usually work directly with hospitals and doctors and rarely advertise, explained Du Jinsong, a pharmaceutical analyst with Credit Suisse in Hong Kong.
China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) counted 329,613 cases of the distribution of unlicensed drugs and medical products in 2007 and collected 746.17 million yuan (or $109 million) in fines.
But the fines have done little to deter the sale of untested drugs in a country where regulation is lacking and enforcement is lax. Analysts said it was hard to measure to what degree public mistrust of adverts have affected drug sales, which grew 26 percent to 752 billion yuan ($110 billion) last year in China.
Still, despite bans, unlicensed and untested medical products are heavily promoted on the Internet, TV and billboards, as well as in newspapers and magazines across China.
Another problem is drug piracy. Sometimes fake drugs are packaged and sold to look like the medications of reputable firms.
In one case in January, the government ordered doctors to stop prescribing a well-known diabetes drug after a fake batch of the medicine was linked to the deaths of two patients in the far western region of Xinjiang.