The State Administration of Market Regulation, along with 12 other government ministries and agencies, jointly launched a nationwide 100-day campaign on Tuesday to crack down on illegal practices involving health products.
The clampdown came amid growing controversies surrounding Tianjin-based healthcare products giant Quanjian, which is suspected of organizing pyramid schemes and engaging in scams that exaggerated the effectiveness of its products.
Zhang Mao, head of the administration, said in a telephone meeting on Tuesday that the company's illegal practices disrupted the market order, violated the rights and interests of consumers and damaged social peace and security.
Zhang asked various regulatory agencies to investigate vigorously and expose serious cases during the campaign. They should also enhance their supervision in the food and drug markets and use various means to eliminate potential risks, he said.
For the time being, various regulators from around the country should stop reviewing health products or providing seals that certify their quality, Zhang said, adding that violators will be held accountable.
Twelve other government bodies are involved in the campaign.
Key targets are products and industries closely related to the everyday lives of people, as well as gadgets, clothing and household appliances that claim to have health benefits, a joint action plan said.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it will establish a 24-hour surveillance system that can catch illegal activity online and curb spam phone calls promoting health products. The Ministry of Civil Affairs said it will investigate social service facilities for the elderly, which have been a major target for scams involving health supplements.
China's health supplement market came under fire recently when healthcare information sharing platform Dingxiang Doctor posted an article about a 7-year-old girl who died of cancer after suspending her chemotherapy to take herbal products made by Quanjian. The article said the company's advertisements claimed the products had an anti-cancer effect.
Quanjian objected to the article and threatened to sue the platform for libel, but the platform stood by its report. After investigation by local authorities, 18 suspects, including the chairman and founder of Quanjian, were detained on suspicion of organizing a pyramid scheme and engaging in false advertising.