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New food and drug safety minister calls for deregulation
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.07.13 15:14
  • Updated 2017.07.14 09:05
  • comments 0

President Moon Jae-in has appointed Ryu Young-jin, former head of Busan Pharmaceutical Association, as the new minister of food and drug safety, the Blue House said Tuesday.

Ryu Young-jin, the new minister of food and drug safety, speaks at an inaugural session Thursday.

In an inaugural ceremony Thursday, Ryu said, “The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is the agency that affects the day-to-day lives of citizens. As such the ministry should work together with people to provide them what they need and improve unnecessary regulations.”

Ryu graduated from Pusan National University Pharmacy School, and also served as the vice president of the Korean Pharmaceutical Association, and the vice chairman of the ruling Democratic Party's Policymaking Committee.

The appointment has led some to raise concerns over Ryu’s close ties to the pharmacy sector, however. Some industry experts expressed concerns that his strong background in pharmaceutical sector may make him biased in policy-making.

For instance, Ryu, while serving as the head of Busan Pharmaceutical Association, opposed the selling of non-medical pharmaceutical products outside pharmacies, including convenience stores.

Specifically, he opposed the sale of pick-me-up drinks such as Bacchus outside pharmacies saying, “Drinks intended to recover from fatigue such as Bacchus has 30mg of anhydrous caffeine which is around three times the amount found in normal coffee. Imprudent use can be dangerous.”

In response to the nomination, the Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society (KPDS) issued a statement Thursday, outlining five principle tasks “the ministry must undertake.”

The letter called for the new minister to meticulously maintain the approval of new drugs, correct the post-approval drug maintenance system, restore international trust in domestic biopharmaceuticals, eliminate public distrust of generics, and change the naming system of generic medicines.

The organization pointed out former ministers had enacted policies geared toward favoring pharmaceutical companies while “spouting off capitalistic logic.”

“The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety had, under the two conservative administrations, produced lots of pro-pharmaceutical and pro-capitalist policies, over the health of our citizens,” the letter stated.

"The KPDS, overlooking the minister’s lack of practical experience, hopes that Ryu will lead the ministry to take responsibility for the citizen’s health and safety by actively responding to the five challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry.”


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