Guangzhou orders identity checks on buyers at drug stores

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am

Guangzhou residents are now required to show their identity cards when buying medicine at drug stores, the latest attempt by the city government to ensure a trouble-free Asian Games.

City Food and Drug Administration deputy director Lin Yongsheng said 1,174 Chinese medicines containing stimulants and 765 foreign drugs would not be sold to individuals without valid identification during the Asian Games and Para Asian Games, the Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday.

Retail pharmacies must check prescriptions by general practitioners and record buyers' personal information such as telephone numbers and addresses when selling drugs containing stimulants.

They include common drugs such as flu tablets. During the Games, most of the day and night flu tablets, as well as treatments for skin diseases, have been displayed separately, with labels warning athletes that taking drugs containing stimulants could cause their disqualification.

Finance worker Susu Luo, 30, said she had caught the flu last week. 'As usual, I went to a pharmacy to get my cold tablets, but I was told to present my ID. It's insane to ask us to go through this just for the Asian Games,' Luo said.

'I can understand the government's rationale for limiting the purchase of kitchen knives, but cold and flu tablets? These are daily necessities. I think this has really gone over the top. So if I lose my ID card, I can't buy medicine to treat my flu?'

The latest precautionary Games measure followed orders requiring residents to present identifications when buying petrol cans at 1,000 petrol stations in Guangdong. Citizens were also advised to buy knives only from licensed vendors and told to present identification so knives were not sold to the mentally ill. Media reports have quoted residents as saying the temporary measures are unnecessary and annoying.

Lin said the temporary measure was to ensure the Games went smoothly and athletes got a fair bid in the competitions.

'After the closing ceremonies of the Para Asian Games, there will be no need to present identification when buying drugs,' Lin said.

Guangzhou has pulled out all the stops to ensure everything goes smoothly.

In a move reminiscent of rules for the Beijing Olympics, half the private cars in the city of 10 million have been ordered off roads every day to improve traffic and air quality.

The event's organising committee revealed the city spent 122.6 billion yuan (HK$143.16 billion) on preparations for the Asian Games - about five times what South Africa spent on the soccer World Cup this year.

But in some areas, the authorities seem to have miscalculated. The city had to abandon a plan to provide free public transport for a month after the rapid increase in passengers overwhelmed the subway system.