China launches nationwide campaign to urge the public to take medicine in a safe way

BEIJING, Jun 3, 2004 (Xinhua News Agency) -- China on Thursday launched a nationwide campaign to urge the public to take medicine in a safe way, in a bid to reduce increasing damages from excessive and inappropriate drug taking.

"The excessive and inappropriate taking of drugs has become a key threat to Chinese people's health and life security," said Zheng Xiaoyu, director of the State Food and Drug Administration ( SFDA).

Statistics showed that nearly 2.5 million Chinese people were hospitalized annually due to adverse reaction to medicines and almost half of the country's deaf cases were caused by excessive use of antibiotics.

Zheng said education is important in improving the public's awareness, but his bureau will also tighten administration on the sale and use of drugs, which "is a very key measure in improving safe drug use".

In China, a large number of medicines are available at drug stores, where medicines like antibiotics can be easily obtained without a doctor's prescription.

Zheng said the SFDA is making regulations on the administration of prescription drugs and OTC drugs and from July 1 this year, antibiotics should be obtainable at drug stores only with doctor's prescription.

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