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Legislation: The CFDA suppresses the state-owned drug electronic supervision system in China

Legislation: The CFDA suppresses the state-owned drug electronic supervision system in China

February 21st, 2016 - www.zqb.cyol.com

On February 20, 2016, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) announced that it will gave up the “drug electronic supervision number” (药品电子监管码) system. This 20-digit number was delivered by the CFDA and acted like an ID enabling the CFDA to retrieve all product information (regulatory, manufacturing, composition and expiration data). Some people thought that the drug electronic supervision number was useless since it overlapped with other numbers, such as the bar code, serial number and registered number of approval. Chinese drug manufacturers also complained it created additional printing costs and forced them to purchase a new equipment to do so. Nevertheless, many people were surprised since this number system was useful for the government to check products in case of problem or crisis, and conduct anti-counterfeiting actions. It seems that the main reason that drove the Chinese State decision was to increase the drug manufacturer’s responsibility and encourage them to improve their traceability practices, so that the whole system will rely less on Chinese administrations.

This announcement significantly affects Alibaba’s future plans for selling drugs online. The database was created and operated by Citic 21CN, a pharmaceutical data firm in which Alibaba took a controlling stake in 2014, and renamed Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd. As the company played a key role in monitoring pharmaceuticals in China, it was an important argument for Alibaba to ensure the safety of drugs sold on Alibaba website (maybe prescription drugs in the future).