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Public sneezes at China law that tracks ephedrine
Publication Date : 04-09-2012
China new regulation requiring people to give their real names when buying cold medicine is causing its own kind of reaction.
The State Food and Drug Administration last week demanded pharmacies take down the real names and ID of people buying medicine containing ephedrine - a substance commonly used in cold medicines that can also be used to produce the drug methamphetamine.
"It's the police's duty to crack down on those drug dealers, but the responsibility has been transferred to us, which I don't find fair," said Fu Guangxin, a 26-year-old editor for a fashion magazine in Beijing.
She wondered if the real-name system might have any effect in preventing people from making drugs from cold medicine.
"How can you make sure the information you register today will not be released tomorrow and then followed by continuous junk mail?" she said.
In response to complaints from customers, some pharmacies are simply recommending non prescription drugs or traditional Chinese medicine, which do not require personal information.
Cui Chunying, a 45-year-old saleswoman in Beijing, said yesterday that she was not optimistic about the real-name system.
"It's the rule, we have to follow it," she said.
Only one customer has left his personal information for cold medicine, Cui said.
"You need to come with your ID card and provide your name and telephone number for a box of simple medicine," she said.
"Even foreigners have to bring their passports," she said.
Experts are also trying to enhance the safety of customer information.
"We're seriously concerned about the possibility of personal data leakage after the implementation of the new rule," said Li Guifang, deputy director of the criminal defence committee under the All China Lawyers' Association.
"I suggest some supporting regulations be issued to make pharmacy staff liable if they illegally disclose customers' personal information," he said.
Moreover, authorities should strengthen the management of chemicals that make it easy to produce and circulate drugs, Li added.
Dai Peng, director of the criminal investigation department under the Chinese People's Public Security University, said anti-drug police officers can use the registered ID information to investigate misuse of the medicines.
"If someone purchases a very large number of, or frequently buys certain type of remedies containing ephedrine, and the amount of the purchases is beyond a reasonable demand for treatment, there is a possibility that they could be using the medicine for making drugs," Dai said.