Partnership to provide drug information

Updated: 2013-02-26 03:43

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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China's top drug authority forged a partnership on Monday with the nation's Internet search giant Baidu, to help crack down on counterfeit drugs and illegal websites trading shoddy products.

The new alliance means Chinese netizens, of which there are 560 million on the mainland, will have access via Baidu to basic information, authorized by the State Food and Drug Administration, about more than 180,000 kinds of drugs including the producer, description and dosage, said Zhu Guang, vice-president of Baidu.

Online drug stores approved by the administration will be identified by Baidu in related search results, to help consumers make the right choices, he said.

Statistics from the SFDA revealed China now has 27 legal online drug sellers.

Sun Xianze, deputy director of the SFDA, said at the partnership launch: "The cooperation, the latest move in the administration's ongoing efforts to fight counterfeit and substandard drugs, will deal a heavy blow particularly to Web-based fake drug retailers".

As the public's access to the Internet widens, a growing number of people have begun to resort to the Internet and Web search engines for drug and healthcare information and related purchasing, he said.

However, there is an abundance of information on the Internet, and the public is not sure what is accurate, Zhu said.

According to Zhu, the partnership with Baidu will enable the Chinese public to access SFDA's official drug database and thus the most accurate information.

In addition, an online channel will be created where people can report problem drugs they come across and illegal online drug traders to SFDA for further investigation, he added.

"These will substantially help with more targeted efforts to crack down on counterfeits and illegal online drug sales and with wider rational drug use among the public," Sun said.

He said the drug database will be constantly updated to better guide the public in proper drug use and purchasing via the Internet.

"Given wide Internet usage, we'll devise and introduce in the near future Web-enabled tools regarding food, dietary supplements, cosmetics and medical appliances to guide consumer practices online," Sun added.

However, some doubts were expressed over how the partnership will be implemented and its effect.

"As we all know, the online search engines have long profited from sponsored searches so will Baidu be faithful to the partnership in practice?" asked Li Yufeng, an office clerk in Beijing.

"For quite a while I have not trusted all the information provided by search engines including Baidu," she noted.

Industry analysis showed that advertising revenue related to healthcare products and services accounted for approximately 30 percent of Baidu's total advertising revenue.

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