Thu, Mar 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Calls for harsher penalties for makers of fake drugs

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

People First Party (PFP) lawmakers yesterday urged harsher penalties for importing or manufacturing counterfeit or illegal drugs.

Lawmakers made the call at a news conference in Taipei after the national recall of lipid-lowering drug Crestor, after two batches of the product were found to have been adulterated with other drugs.

PFP caucus whip Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said Taiwan’s drug market has been flooded with counterfeit drugs.

The fake drugs looked very similar to the actual product and contained another lipid-lowering agent, indicating that manufacturers are capable of mass producing fake drugs, Lee said.

“National Health Insurance Administration [NHIA] data shows that about 80,000 people in Taiwan are on dialysis, costing the NHI system about NT$50 billion [US$1.62 billion] a year,” Lee said, adding that the large number of people on dialysis might be because people have taken counterfeit medications or traditional remedies that damage the kidneys.

After the NHIA last year announced the most commonly used drugs to be included on its quality monitoring program, those drugs have become targets for counterfeiters, Lee said, urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the about 200 types of drugs in seven categories.

Lee said the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法) should be amended to stipulate a minimum five years in prison or a fine of up to NT$100 million for counterfeit drugmakers.

FDA Director-General Wu Hsiu-ying (吳秀英) said suspects in the Crestor case have been taken into custody and that while it cannot comment on the investigation, it would enhance its drug traceability capabilities.

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