Worries over IDs to buy pills

Updated: 2011-12-30 09:36

By Shan Juan, Cheng Yingqi and Tan Zongyang (China Daily)

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FUZHOU - A new policy in Fujian province that requires buyers of emergency contraception to register personal information at drug stores has stirred public discussion.

The policy, published Dec 26 on the website of the Fujian Food and Drug Administration, requires all drug stores in Fuzhou, Xiamen and Sanming to conduct identity checks before selling morning after pills to consumers, along with a ban on selling abortion drugs.

"The problem of the policy is that it did not mention any measures to prevent the buyers' personal information from being leaked," said a netizen under the net name of fredyang on Sina micro blog, on Thursday.

Worries over IDs to buy pills 

Since the emergency contraceptives entered the Chinese market in 1998, people have been able to buy it over the counter without any limitations. Fujian was the first place in the country to issue such a rule.

The Fujian drug authority requires drug retailers to register personal information including names, ID card numbers and telephone numbers of the buyers, and checks the registration information constantly, according to Wu, owner of the Yi'antang drug store in Xiamen.

"Don't worry, we won't show the register book to others," Wu promised.

However, further outcries against the policy came after local drug officials gave explanations for the policy.

"We did that according to a directive from superior government bodies in a bid to strike at illegal artificial abortion for sex selection," Zhou Shaohui, a division director of the food and drug bureau in Fuzhou, said on Wednesday.

In August, departments including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Security and the National Population and Family Planning Commission launched a campaign to curb non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions to help balance the gender ratio.

Although such anti-sex-selective campaigns are carried out nationwide, specific bans or rules in other places except Fujian only target abortion drugs, not contraception.

"It doesn't make sense, because contraceptive drugs have no way to terminate pregnancy," said Su Deqing, a maternal and child health expert of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Emergency contraceptive pills could lower the risk of pregnancy by at least 90 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, but that only happens before pregnancy. So you won't terminate pregnancy with the pills when you already know the sex of a baby."

Professor Fan Guangsheng with the obstetrics and gynecology department of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, agreed: "The sex of the fetus could first be learned after being pregnant for a longer time, like a 3-month period, a time the pills cannot terminate the pregnancy."

However, Fan welcomed the rule for other reasons.

"In street-side drug stores we have few qualified pharmacists who can give professional instruction for drug use and safety so more strict rules might help with proper drug use and side effect prevention for buyers, particularly those of young age," she told China Daily.

"I've handled cases where women had problems like failed contraception, ectopic pregnancy and even infertility after abusing the drugs."