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Pretend doctors banned from TV

CHINA has banned actors and other "non-accredited personnel" from playing medical experts in advertisements for drugs after an Internet-led investigation exposed a number of bogus experts, state media reported yesterday.

An Internet user late last month exposed 12 fake experts selling medicine under various guises and names on television stations in the eastern Shandong Province, sparking an online uproar over false endorsements.

In a story published on February 4, The Beijing Times exposed a middle-aged actor who imitated four experts under different names on TV while selling drugs.

The article also mentioned an actress who mimicked patients suffering from lung, liver, kidney and heart problems. She claimed her diseases were cured after taking drugs mentioned in the advertisements.

The government said impersonating experts or patients was misleading, so new rules were set to prohibit the behavior, according to the Ministry of Health.

China's fair trade watchdog, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, vowed punishments after local hospitals and universities queued up to deny any affiliation to the "experts," local media reported.

Non-accredited personnel would be banned from such advertisements and other health programs on television, Xinhua news agency said, citing a notice jointly issued by the SAIC, the Health Ministry, China's media regulator and two other drug-quality watchdogs.

Further breaches would see advertisers and companies' advertising licences revoked and "temporary suspensions of sales for their medicinal products," Xinhua said.

The national broadcasting watchdog, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, has battled to clean up the advertising industry in recent years, periodically imposing advertising bans for local companies whose drugs and health products fail to meet standards.

But fake drug and food quality scandals continue, despite regulators' promises to get tough.

Police earlier this month arrested at least five people in connection with a fake diabetic drug linked to the deaths of two people in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.


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