Tough measures on the sale of antibiotics are to be imposed from July to control the problem of drug abuse, the State Food and Drug Administration has announced. Prescription-strength antibiotics are now available in most chemists, including state-run ones, and sold without a prescription. At pharmacies in Beijing, 10 pills of a wide variety of drugs can be bought for between 12 yuan and 48 yuan. But the quality varies. The administration hopes the move will halt the production of antibiotics that do not meet national health standards or have serious side-effects. Advertisements for antibiotics will no longer be allowed in newspapers, on television or other public media outlets, Xinhua said. Shao Mingli, deputy director of the mainland's drug watchdog, announced the new rule on Tuesday. He said abuse of antibiotics had led to increasingly drug-resistant bacteria and some antibiotics had lost their effectiveness. Penicillin is one antibiotic commonly sold over the counter, even though nearly 5 per cent of the population is allergic to it. Roy Wadia, public relations officer of the World Health Organisation in Beijing, said developing a drug policy and legislation covering antibiotics was essential. 'The WHO has long recognised that the sale of over-the-counter antibiotics is a matter of concern, not just in China, but in many countries.'