Half of the 25 local drug makers may not survive after the Hospital Authority adopts new drug procurement procedures, an authority source said yesterday. The source also said the authority would file a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Europharm Laboratories, a local drug maker whose allopurinol drug was found to contain levels of Mucorales fungus 10 times above the allowable limit, and which was linked to the deaths of six hospital patients. The authority was also considering banning drug makers involved in recent problems from tendering for future authority drug-procurement contracts. Seven measures would be enforced in the short term to enhance drug purchasing, authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said yesterday after a board meeting. The measures are: The authority will consider buying high-volume and high-risk drugs, such as the anti-diabetes drug metformin, from multiple suppliers, so patients can obtain replacements more quickly in case of recalls. Drug makers will be required to produce evidence of microbiological testing (tests for fungi and bacteria) on drugs used on high-risk patients as a prerequisite for procurement. The authority will also sample a wider range of drugs for microbiological testing, in addition to the chemical tests it already does. Suppliers will need to provide more information on delivery so the authority can check drugs more effectively. The authority will ask the Department of Health for more information regarding drug-registration details, such as pack sizes. Computer systems in pharmacies will be enhanced so that drugs, especially ones whose use-by dates have expired, can be tracked more efficiently. A barcode system will be introduced. A drug-quality assurance office will be established to handle frontline complaints. Mr Wu said it was most important to restore public confidence. 'We hope residents will know that our drugs are safe and they can use them without any worries,' he said. The authority will meet drug makers tomorrow to discuss its new procedures. Asked to assess the authority's performance in handling the drug scare, Mr Wu declined to comment on the issue. 'Whether our performance has been good or not is up to the public to say,' he said. At present, almost 15 per cent of the drugs dispensed in public hospitals come from one supplier, according to a Food and Health Bureau report to the Legislative Council. The authority buys 3,200 types of drugs, of which 50 per cent are generic drugs whose patents have expired, while 350 drugs purchased by the authority are produced locally. Cluster services director Cheung Wai-lun said multiple suppliers for all types of drugs were not necessary. 'If the same drug has different sizes and colours, patients and drug dispensers would be confused,' he said. Of the nearly 20,000 types of drugs that are registered in Hong Kong, about 70 per cent are imported.