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Questions about flu drug's safety need answering

China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-09 07:32

CHINESE DOCTORS often give children the immunostimulant pidotimod to fight flu in winter. However, recently several medical experts have pointed out that the effectiveness and safety of pidotimod are still unclear. Southern Metropolis Daily comments:

The dry air and low temperatures of winter, mean colds and flu are raging all over the country, especially in kindergartens and schools due to the children's ages, poor resistance and close proximity in crowded classrooms.

Data show that pidotimod is now so widely prescribed by Chinese doctors that sales of the pharmaceutical drug reached 4 billion yuan ($616.8 million) last year alone. However, the medicine is still in a clinical testing period in many countries overseas.

Ji Lianmei, a doctor from Beijing, openly asked the domestic medicine supervision department to evaluate the medicine for clinical use.

According to Ji's analysis, there are three main reasons why many domestic doctors prescribe pidotimod for children. First, they hope the medicine will help to improve their immunity. Second, some doctors simply read the descriptions on the medicine package, without resorting to further materials. Third, some doctors might have interests associated with pharmaceutical companies.

We are not sure whether her analysis is reasonable, but the fact is that pidotimod is not yet on the approved medicine list of the US Food and Drug Administration. Even when Pakistan prepared to introduce the medicine, experts put it into the list of "not recommended medicines".

It is always a good choice to err on the side of caution when it comes to medicines, especially those given to children. In this case, the China Food and Drug Administration should be more prudent.

The rate of adverse reactions to medicines among children in China is double that of adults. There should be a reappraisal of the drug to ensure it is safe for children.

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