Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Foundation lauds move for better medicine labeling

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Health Care Reform Foundation yesterday commended the passage of amendments designed to ensure patients have more information about drugs they are prescribed.

The announcement came in response to the legislature's passage on Tuesday of amendments to the Physician's Act (醫師法) and Medical Care Act (醫療法), which state that clinics and hospitals that fail to clearly list details of a medicine's purpose and possible side effects on drug packets will be fined up to NT$100,000.

“This is the right thing to do,” foundation chairwoman Chang Li-yun (張苙雲) said. “We welcome the amendments as they will keep patients informed about the medicine they take.”

The foundation also made public the results of a poll, which showed that only 50 percent of clinics or hospitals list details of the purpose and effect of the drugs in their carrying bags.

The survey showed that only 37 percent of medicine bags inform patients what side effects they might experience after taking the medicine, while 30 percent of the bags had no information telling patients how to preserve the medicine.

More than 70 percent of patients check if the medicines they took match their prescriptions.

Chang said the poll was carried out by telephone this month, but did not give figures on how many people participated in the poll.

In related news, the Department of Health yesterday warned of a strict crackdown on false advertisements that exaggerate a drug's efficacy or benefits after announcing the results of a survey on misleading commercials.

“We discovered that some of these manufacturers try to avoid crack downs by changing the names of their products and running the commercials on different channels,” said Liao Chi-chou (廖繼洲), director-general of the Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs.

The bureau's poll showed that Super TV had the most exaggerated drug commercials. However, it did not announce any penalties for the manufacturers or the TV and radio stations involved.

The department's Chinese Medicine Association also warned the public against taking medicines sold at local temples or night markets.

“We understand that a lot of questionable Chinese medicines are sold at such locations. They could be dangerous and could damage your liver and kidneys,” association chairman Lin Yi-hsin (林宜信) said.

Lin said that manufacturers of unauthorized medicine could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to NT$10 million (US$295,000).

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