China opens door to cheap Indian generic medicines

Generic drugs approved in India and other countries but not in China have been removed from the country’s “fake medicine” list and can be used by patients in small quantities from December 1, the newly revised drug administration law of the country says.

Until now, all foreign generic drugs not approved in China were clubbed under the counterfeit category and were illegal to use here. From December 1, these drugs can be used by patients and they will not be punished for doing so if used in small quantities.

The revision was approved and announced at the end of the session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature, yesterday. The change in the law is good news for Chinese patients suffering from diseases like cancer. They will now be able to access effective and cheap generic drugs from India especially to treat ailments like cancer.

The official announcement, however, didn’t say how patients were expected to procure the drugs as they aren’t available in pharmacies here. The state-run Chinese news portal, thepaper.cn explained that the revision of the law means that generic drugs legal in other countries, but yet to be approved in China have been removed from the category of “fake medicines”.

“Article 124 of the newly revised drug administration law stipulates that the import of a small number of drugs that have been legally listed overseas (but) without approval (in China) can be exempted from punishment in minor cases,” the news portal reported.

The revision of the law doesn’t, however, “…mean that China is ready to relax management on imported generic medicine. People who want to import generic drugs for profit still have to follow Chinese laws to register and get an approval in advance,” the nationalistic tabloid Global Times reported.

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