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Drug ad celebrities in the frame

CELEBRITIES who knowingly advertise bogus or substandard drugs could face criminal charges, a judicial explanation issued today says.

According to the new policy by the Supreme People's Court, if celebrities have any idea that the pharmaceutical products they promote are fake or sub-standard they will be held liable for any damages and could be charged as co-defendants in criminal actions.

The rule, which will be law tomorrow, is part of a crackdown on counterfeit and substandard drugs which is paying special attention to advertising and promotions.

Xiong Xuanguo, the vice president and justice of the Supreme People's Court, said the new policy lists advertising campaigns for fake and substandard drugs as offences.

Stricter monitoring and heavier penalties will be introduced, Xiong said.

Celebrities would offend only if they knew about the fake or substandard drugs they promoted, Xiong added.

And people using the Internet to sell counterfeit drugs in China will face severe penalties as the government steps up the fight against illegal sales, according to a statement by 13 ministry departments on May 15.

The departments met to launch a year-long campaign that aims to cut distribution channels for fake drugs, including online purchasing and postal deliveries.

A mechanism to encourage more effective coordination of the work of divergent departments has been introduced, said Shao Mingli, vice minister of health and the head of the State Food and Drug Administration.

He said pharmacies are strictly regulated but online dealers have now emerged as a new hotbed for counterfeit medicines.

Illegal dealers publish online advertisements to lure customers, who pay when the product is delivered.

The new mechanism will enable law enforcement agencies to crack down on fake drugs from production to circulation, by closing down Websites that advertise fake drugs and by suspending the bank and telephone accounts of companies involved in illegal trading.


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