A public hospital in Shandong Province, China, recently drew a small fine from local food and drug officials for selling fake medicine, with the punishment sparking criticism from the public as being insufficient.
Dazhong Net, a state-run news site, reported on Aug. 11 that the Qingdao City Chengyang District People’s Hospital was fined 692.5 yuan (about $100) for selling phony dried citrus peel, a type of traditional Chinese medicine commonly used to alleviate coughing and phlegm.
Because the product was sold out, authorities confiscated the 167.50 yuan ($24.36) that the hospital received from selling the item. Then, authorities fined the facility 525 yuan ($76.34), according to a notice released June 20 by the Qingdao City Food and Drug Administration.
The lax punishment drew attention from media and netizens.
“Why is there only a fine? Why are there no penalties for people who were involved [in the scheme], and further investigation of the channels through which the hospital acquired [fake medicine]? Why is it only being fined 600 yuan?” Another said, “The fake medicine was sold out. So the distributors and manufacturers will not be punished?”
“It seems to tell hospitals: You can keep doing it. It’s alright,” another commented.
Other medical-safety problems in China have recently come to light.
Last month, expired and faulty vaccines manufactured by several Chinese pharmaceutical companies were revealed to have been distributed and used to inoculate children, despite government knowledge. As a result of strong public pressure, Chinese authorities have arrested executives at one of the affected major vaccine manufacturers, Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology; other companies linked to the vaccine troubles haven’t been penalized. Meanwhile, child victims and their parents are being harassed or silenced by the Chinese authorities for petitioning their cases.
Luo Tingting of NTD Television contributed to this report.