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Licensing system for Chinese medicines traders coming into full effect (with photos/video)

    Provisions relating to the licensing system of Chinese medicine traders and the import and export control of Chinese medicines under the Chinese Medicine Ordinance will come into full effect next Friday (January 11) and offenders will be liable to a fine and imprisonment.

     Under the licensing system, traders engaged in the retail or wholesale of Chinese herbal medicines, and manufacturers or wholesalers in proprietary Chinese medicines must obtain a licence from the Chinese Medicines Board of the Chinese Medicine Council (CMC) of Hong Kong.

     The maximum penalty for non-compliance is a $100,000 fine and imprisonment for two years.

     Speaking at a press conference today (January 3), the Chairman of CMC's Chinese Medicines Board, Dr P Y Lam, said the provisions were aimed at enhancing the standard of practice of Chinese medicines traders to safeguard public health.

     He said these measures would strengthen the control of Chinese medicines and help combat more effectively the illegal operation of Chinese medicines business. They would also facilitate a more effective monitoring of Chinese medicines imported into and exported out of Hong Kong.

     The Chinese Medicines Board began to receive applications for Chinese medicines traders licence in May 2003. As of December, 2007, the Chinese Medicines Board had issued about 7,000 Chinese medicines traders licences and transitional certificates.

     He appealed to the public to buy Chinese medicines from licensed traders.

     He urged traders who were still unlicensed to submit applications as soon as possible and reminded them to stop their business on January 11 until they had a licence and would not breach the law.

     Licences are issued subject to the applicants' compliance with the requirements of the Ordinance on premises, hygiene, storage, facilities and personnel qualifications.

     At present, when a licence holder is alleged to have committed an offence or violated the practising guidelines, the case will be referred to the Chinese Medicines Board for possible disciplinary action such as licence suspension or revocation, variation of conditions or restrictions or issue of warnings.

     When the measures take full effect, any person who infringes these provisions may be prosecuted.

     The Chinese Medicines Board has issued transitional certificates to enable those who were in business when the licensing system was introduced to continue their operation. From May, 2003, to December, 2007, the Chinese Medicines Board issued 3,570 transitional certificates. Holders of the certificates are deemed to have a licence and governed by the ordinance.

     To prepare the Chinese medicines traders for the licensing system, the Chinese Medicines Board has carried out a series of publicity and educational activities in the past two years. Traders are reminded they need to apply for a licence and comply with the legislation and practising guidelines as well as the commencement date of the relevant provisions.

     The import and export control over 36 types of Chinese herbal medicines and proprietary Chinese medicines under the Chinese Medicine Ordinance will also be implemented on the same date.

     Also present in today's press conference were the Chairman of CMC's Chinese Medicines Traders Committee, Mr Wong Kong Hui, and the Assistant Director of Health (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Dr Amy Chiu Pui-yin.

     The Chinese Medicine Ordinance was passed in 1999 and the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong was set up in the same year to develop and implement the regulatory measures on Chinese medicine. In 2003, it further introduced respectively the regulatory measures for licensing of Chinese medicines traders and registration of proprietary Chinese medicines.

     People can visit the website of the CMCHK ( for details of the provisions under the ordinance and the licensing system for Chinese medicines traders.

     The "Handbook of the Application for Chinese Medicines Traders Licences" and the application forms are available at Chinese Medicine Division of the Department of Health at 32/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East and Chinese Medicines Section of the department at 2/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon. For more details, please telephone 2574 9999 or visit the website of the CMCHK.

Ends/Thursday, January 3, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:33


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