The Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate on May 27, 2009 jointly issued “Interpretations on Several Issues Regarding the Application of Law on Criminal Cases Concerning the Production and/or Sale of Fake and Substandard Drugs” (“Interpretations”) to address the serious crimes of manufacturing and selling counterfeit and/or substandard pharmaceutical products in China. Pursuant to Article 5 of the Interpretations, individuals or companies are considered liable as accomplices for the crimes of creating, manufacturing or selling fake and/or substandard drugs if they know or should have known that the drugs are fake and/or substandard.
There has been extensive media coverage of complaints from the general public against problematic products endorsed by celebrities. A high profile case in 2008 involved endorsements by several movie stars of milk products tainted with melamine. The Chinese government imposed severe penalties on the milk manufacturer, including the imprisonment of its executives which led, in part, to the company’s bankruptcy. However, celebrities that endorsed these milk products were not subject to penalties, due to the lack of any clear legal foundation for litigation. The Interpretations require celebrities and other potential endorsers of medical products to exercise more care when choosing whether to support a particular product.