Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 4 News List

New `health police' to be established

REACHING CONSENSUS National Police Agency and Department of Health officials agreed that a new force should be established, but differed on how it should be set up

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Officials from the National Police Agency and the Department of Health reached a consensus yesterday on the establishment of "health police" to help stem the rampant trade in illicit, counterfeit and bogus medications in the country.

The officials reached the consensus after engaging in a debate at the Legislative Yuan sponsored by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) on which government agency should be responsible for cracking down on the trade of illicit drugs.

At a press conference, Lai said that there is only an average of one investigator for every 40,000 people in Taiwan looking for and cracking down on illicit drugs, while penalties for violations are too light and prosecutions of the crimes too few.

He lamented that although it is stipulated in the Department of Health's organizational law that a health police force should be set up, it had never been established.

Lai said he would propose that the legislature request a health police force be established within a specific period of time, that a counterfeit medication task force be set up.

Liao Chi-chou (廖繼洲), director of the health department's Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs, said the health department would be pleased to cooperate with the police as long as there was a sufficient budget.

Despite their differences on the issue, health department and police agency officials came to a consensus that it is imperative that a health police force be established in the near future to tackle the problem.

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