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Call for fund to aid drugs victims

SHANGHAI deputies at this year's National People's Congress session in Beijing have suggested setting up a national compensation fund for victims of drugs that cause serious side effects.

The proposal by the lawmakers, who included Zhou Hongling, chief designer of Shanghai-based No. 801 aeronautics institution and Jia Weiping, vice president of Shanghai No. 6 People's Hospital and chief of the Shanghai diabetes institution, wants to set up an integrated compensation system to cover victims of serious side effects.

China is reported to have an estimated 2.5 million patients a year seeking hospital treatment because of adverse medical reactions and nearly 200,000 of them die, according to the Shanghai Evening Post.

Zhou said patients were often vulnerable but a major drug side-effects scandal that involved many victims could cause a huge social disruption. Patients often spent lots of money, time and energy dealing with pharmaceutical companies or hospitals or filing lawsuits against them, especially when drug itself had passed tests and the side effects were due to individual differences. If they were never indemnified, they suffered mentally and physically, Zhou said.

Zhou suggested amending the current drug administrative law to stipulate that victims be compensated by the fund and that pharmaceutical companies contribute to the fund.

The fund should be part of the drug liability insurance scheme, Zhou said. Pharmaceutical companies would have to buy insurance the same way that drivers buy compulsory vehicle insurance.

Other sources for the fund would be the drug-risk reserves of pharmaceutical companies or drug importers. Public funds from government budgets, donations, as well as from fines for fake drugs or illegal drug practices could also be used.


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