A decision by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to block legal amendments aimed at discouraging the illegal distribution of counterfeit medication is a political one and it is sacrificing the health of the public, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus alleged.
Following the creation of an interagency task force last year to combat the spread of illegal medication via underground radio stations, the KMT has also pushed for the passage of amendments to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法), the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) and the Health Food Control Act (保健食品管理法).
KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) said that before the special task force was convened last year, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Chiayi and Tainan were all locales where underground radio stations were especially rampant.
He said that those areas also had the highest ratio of people who needed to receive liver dialysis in the country.
KMT caucus secretary-general Chao Li-yun (趙麗雲) said administrative authorities did not have the means to take down underground radio stations unless the amendment was passed.
Chao added that the DPP should not let the health of its supporters suffer for the sake of political gain.
In response, DPP caucus director--general Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the KMT’s allegations were slanderous.
The DPP blocked passage of the amendments because civic opinion on the need for punitive action against the celebrities and show hosts involved in the practice had yet to be heard, Tsai said.
The DPP’s decision had nothing to do with underground radio stations, Tsai said, adding that the KMT should not be jumping at shadows.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) questioned the motives of the KMT and accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of failing to handle the matter earlier, saying Ma only turned his attention to it as the elections were approaching.
Such selectivity and political motivations are not acceptable, Huang said.
Department of Health Deputy Minister Hsiao Mei-ling (蕭美玲) said that since the task force was launched last year, along with help from the Ministry of Justice and the National Communications Commission, the rate of interdiction of counterfeit medication had risen 1.5 times.
Legal action against counterfeit medication had increased 5.4 times, Hsiao said.
For the same period, illegal advertisements dropped 7 percent, Hsiao added.
Although the results so far have been promising, the penalties are too light to effectively halt the spread of underground radio stations, said Sung Kao-ye (宋國業), director of the justice ministry’s Department of Prosecutorial Affairs.
The justice ministry would consider amending the laws when the time is appropriate, Sung added.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER