China’s SFDA Permits Internet-Based Drug Sales

As of December 1, 2005, the China State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) began allowing the sale of drugs on the internet. The Interim Requirements for the Examination and Approval of Internet-based Pharmaceutical Trading Services, issued by the SFDA in October 2005, took effect December 1, 2005. The Interim Requirements outline the regulatory requirements governing the sale and purchase of pharmaceuticals on the internet. They were issued in accordance with China’s Drug Administration Law and the Regulations for Implementation of the Drug Administration Law.

According to the Interim Requirements, pharmaceutical trading services include internet sales of all drugs and medical devices, as well as the main packaging materials and containers used for packaging drugs. These pharmaceutical trading services specifically include: internet-based pharmaceutical trading services provided among drug manufacturers, distributors, and medical institutions; internet trade by drug manufacturers and wholesalers trading with other companies via their own websites; and trade between drug companies selling drugs directly to individual consumers.

Any company that wants to engage in internet-based pharmaceutical sales must first be examined and recognized by the SFDA, after which they will receive the Certificate of Internet-based Pharmaceutical Trading Service Organization. The certificate is valid for five years and is renewable. This new regulation aims to standardize internet-based pharmaceutical sales and purchases. All internet-based pharmaceutical trading services in the People’s Republic of China must comply with the Interim Requirements.