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Tsang seeks to fix HK's drug supply

HONG Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Donald Tsang said yesterday that the HKSAR government would do its best to restore public confidence in the city's drug-supply system in the wake of recent drug regulation scandals.

Speaking to reporters in Hong Kong, Tsang said the HKSAR government understood public concern over recent pharmacy incidents and had taken measures to address the issue.

After a series of scandals, including one involving false claims about expiration dates on more than 200 over-the-counter medicines, the HKSAR government has formed a special committee with 20 members from the pharmaceutical sector, medical profession, academia, patient groups and consumer representatives to probe the industry's supervisory system, regulations and culture within the trade.

The committee will hold its first meeting in early April with the review results completed in six to nine months.

Tsang said the Department of Health will inspect all drug manufacturing plants, adding that the Hospital Authority will conduct a thorough check of drugs being dispensed at public hospitals and clinics. The HKSAR government will also investigate recent incidents to see if they involved human error, and would deal with the issue seriously, he added.

The committee will undertake a comprehensive review of the existing regulatory regime for the regulation and control of pharmaceutical products and conduct a comprehensive review on all the relevant issues including safety and quality assurance of drugs, standard and practices of the pharmaceutical industry, and whether there was a need for legislative amendments.

To support the work of the review committee, the Director of Health has set up a task force to comprehensively review the existing control of the drug supply chain, including manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers, as well as the control of drugs.

An Expert Group on Microbiological Hazards on Drug Manufacturing will also make proposals to the task force.

Assistance and advice from a reputable overseas authority is also to be sought.


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