Sun, May 06, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Expired medicines promotion outrages animal lovers, vets

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

A pharmaceutical firm has caused outrage among animal lovers by offering expired human medications to veterinarians at a cut price.

"A lot of medicine past its use by date is still efficacious," said the promotion notice from Chuan-hua Pharmaceuticals (全華藥品). "So we are offering them for sale as pet medicine."

Medicines within one year of expiration were offered at a 20 percent discount to the list price, with steeper discounts for even more out-of-date medication. The notice was sent to vets all over the nation, including Johnson Veterinary Hospital in Taipei.

"I have heard from vets all over Taiwan complaining about Chuan-hua, they even had the gall to fax a copy of their promotional material to the Taiwan Veterinary Medical Association," said Johnson Chiang (江世明) of the Johnson Veterinary Hospital. "The offer is an affront to vets and disrespectful to animals."

Chiang said no vet is likely to take up the firm's offer, which he condemned.

"It is absurd to think that as professionals we would do something this unethical," he said. "This is why vets reported the matter to the authorities so quickly."

Chuan-hua Pharmaceuticals Web site did not make any mention of the company's promotion yesterday.

Describing Chuan-hua as "professionally managed" with "ten years of experience," the Web site assured potential customers they need not "worry about fake and inferior drugs that pervade the market [when dealing with Chuan-hua]."

Footage broadcast by Taiwan Television Enterprise on Friday showed a Chuan-hua employee attempting to explain the questionable move.

The employee said that this was the first year that the firm had attempted to sell out-of-date medication to vets.

"It is not against the law," the employee said.

However, the Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs contradicted the employee.

A statement from the bureau said that selling expired medicine falls foul of three different statutes of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法), the most serious of which incurs a fine of NT$300,000.

"There is no provision that makes the selling of expired medication to vets legal," the bureau's statement said.

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