China to allow medicine sales online

China’s government is about to open the way for pharmaceuticals to be sold online.

A law change may be enacted as early as this month, clearing the way for major retailers like Alibaba and Walmart to start dispensing prescriptions over the internet.

Reuters reports that the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) is finalising a list of prescription medicines which will be approved for online sale.

“The policy will be released in January or February and the CFDA is actively working on it,” the adviser told Reuters, on condition of anonymity.

Currently, hospitals account for 70 per cent of China’s pharmaceutical sales, in partnership with state-run distributors. Corruption has been common and last year global manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline Plc was fined nearly US$500 million for supply contract irregularities.

Under current laws online pharmacies may sell only over-the-counter medicines and normal healthcare products like cough medicines, vitamins and skin ointments.


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