Hong Kong Med J 2013;19:286–93 | Number 4, August 2013 | Epub 20 May 2013
DOI: 10.12809/hkmj133841
Legislations combating counterfeit drugs in Hong Kong
CW Lai, Frank WK Chan
The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To understand legislation combating counterfeit drugs in Hong Kong.
DESIGN. This study consisted of two parts. In part I, counterfeit drugs–related ordinances and court cases were reviewed. In part II, in-depth interviews of the stakeholders were described.
SETTING. Hong Kong.
PARTICIPANTS. All Hong Kong ordinances were screened manually to identify those combating counterfeit drugs. Court cases were searched for each of the identified cases. Then, the relevant judgement justifications were analysed to identify sentencing issues. In-depth interviews with the stakeholders were conducted to understand their perceptions about such legislation.
RESULTS. Trade Marks Ordinance, Patents Ordinance, Trade Descriptions Ordinance, and Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance were current legislative items combating counterfeit drugs. Sentencing criteria depended on: intention to deceive, quantity of seized drugs, presence of expected therapeutic effect or toxic ingredients, previous criminal records, cooperativeness with Customs officers, honest confessions, pleas of guilty, types of drugs, and precautionary measures to prevent sale of counterfeit drugs. Stakeholders’ perceptions were explored with respect to legislation regarding the scale and significance of the counterfeit drug problem, penalties and deterrents, drug-specific legislation and authority, and inspections and enforcement.
CONCLUSIONS. To plug the loopholes, a specific law with heavy penalties should be adopted. This could be supplemented by non-legal measures like education of judges, lawyers, and the public; publishing the names of offending pharmacies; and emphasising the role of pharmacists to the public.
Key words: Counterfeit drugs; Law enforcement; Legislation
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