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[Newsmaker] 27 hospitals violate narcotics law: ministry

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety found instances of overprescribing or giving patients illicit access to drugs at 27 clinics and hospitals, the ministry’s report said Wednesday.

Out of the 36,000 medical institutions that handle medical-use drugs, the ministry singled out 52 medical institutions for suspicion of misuse of drugs, using data from a drug management system. Of the 52 singled out, 27 were found to be in violation of the Narcotics Control Act.


Administrative measures will be taken against the medical institutions by the local government in charge, the ministry said, while a police-prosecution investigation have been requested for 23 of them.

In addition to the misuse of drugs at medical institutions, the ministry requested an investigation of 49 patients on suspicion of forging prescriptions and stealing resident registration numbers of dead people to access drugs such as propofol for non-medical purposes.

The recent screening of the medical use of narcotic drugs was jointly conducted by the Drug Safety Ministry, Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, Korean National Police Agency and Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service using results from a big data-integrated surveillance system from April 15 to 19.

The system, in operation since May last year, helps detect illicit use of drugs at medical institutions, the ministry said. The system analyzes the national prescription records in real time, checking for signs of misuse and personal information theft.

Since March, the ministry has been cooperating with other government branches and institutions to operate an inspection squad aimed at cracking down on medical narcotics crimes. In addition, the ministry said an onsite drugs response team will be formed under its drug safety planning bureau.

As for preventive measures, a Drug Safety Ministry official told The Korea Herald it plans to screen usage of forged resident registration numbers at hospitals once a month with the help of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.

By Kim Arin (