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Tougher penalties for bogus medical adverts
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2006-11-28 10:04

An improved management regulation will mean tougher punishments for those responsible for bogus medical adverts, officials said Monday.

The Management Regulation on Illegal Medical Advertisements, a revision of the original 1993 rule, will come into effect on January 1 next year, according to officials at a press conference jointly held by the Ministry of Health and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

Li Yali of the SAIC said the new regulation would substantially raise the level of punishment for both advertising agencies and advertisers.

Li said the SAIC has the power to suspend or even withdraw medical advert licenses if agencies, including advertising companies and mass media, severely violate the regulation.

The new regulation would also give health and drug administrative departments the power to punish medical institutions for the placing of illegal medical ads.

Medical institutions severely violating the regulation will be ordered to suspend their service, cancel relevant clinics or even have their practice licenses rescinded and be closed down.

The old regulation, Li said, only gives financial penalties.

According to the revised regulation, a preview system will be established in provincial-level health administrative departments to look over contents of medical advertisements before they are printed or broadcast. Medical adverts will have to gain preview certificates from health administration departments before they are published.

The regulation imposes restrictions on the content of medical adverts:

Medical advertisements can only include the following items: advertising institutions?names, address, ownership, category, clinics, number of beds, work hours and telephone numbers for contact.

According to the regulation, medical adverts should not contain the following items:

-- Names of medical technology, therapy, disease or drug;
-- Direct or indirect promise of cure rate;
-- Superstitious, obscene or derogatory information;
-- Use patients, medical personnel, medicine educational institutions, scientific research institutes or any other groups or organizations as proof of the effect of the medical service;
-- Mention the name of People’s Liberation Army or Armed Police personnel;
-- Other practices forbidden by laws and regulations.

The regulation bans medical adverts disguised as news or medical service information.

Zhou Jun, an official with the Ministry of Health, said the ministry and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine is going to launch a thorough investigation campaign to crack down on illegal medical adverts next month.
In 2005, China's medical advertising industry income reached 7.6 billion yuan (US$950 million).

In the first nine months of this year, authorities have punished 4,644 cases of illegal medical advertising across the nation. 
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