BEIJING, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's food and drug safety watchdog plans to put imported drugs on the national electronic monitoring network in a move to step up drug management.
Overseas pharmaceutical companies and their designated agents in China will have to apply to be covered by the network and get relevant cipher keys, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said in a draft regulation. The regulation was made public to solicit opinions until Oct. 12.
The electronic network was designed to monitor the entire process of manufacture, transportation, storage and sale of drugs. The move will also enable realtime inquiries into inventories and destinations, according to Wang Yingli, chief of the SFDA information planning office.
By assigning each package of medicine a 20-digit unique code, the administration can use the network to track and recall drugs, Wang said.
The network will also help curb counterfeit drugs as consumers can use the code to inquire about the products via phone, text messages or the Internet, according to Wang.
The SDA has been developing the electronic monitoring network, which was initiated in 2006.
By November 2008, the government incorporated into the network narcotic drugs, blood products, vaccines, important injections, and some psychiatric drugs.
By February this year, all drugs that were on the country's essential drug list were covered by the network, according to the SFDA.
Essential drugs are those that satisfy health care needs and are available to the public at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms. They are also capped at a price the public can afford.
China aims to keep track of all drugs prescribed by doctors by 2015 by using the electronic monitoring network, according to its five-year drug supervision plan published by the SFDA.