Chinese authorities say they are investigating an allegation by Nigeria that a consignment of drugs labeled 'Made in India' were, in fact, fake pharmaceuticals produced in China itself.
The Times of India reported this week that the forged anti-malaria pharmaceuticals were "a large consignment" and that they were seized by the Drug Regulatory Authority (NAFDAC) of Nigeria.
Had the drugs not been intercepted, about 642,000 adults would likely have taken the potentially harmful product, said NAFDAC.
"We are highly concerned about the case and are sending investigating officials to the Chinese provinces involved, including Guangdong," Yan Jiangying, a spokesperson of the he State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) told a press conference.
Overseas pharmacy companies should deal only with registered Chinese drug producers and traders that are recognized by SFDA, said Cui Enxue, director of the SFDA's drug safety inspection bureau.
"We'll investigate the case thoroughly and refer any Chinese drug companies involved to the law-enforcement and justice department if they are found to have broken the law," Cui said, citing the importance of international cooperation and information-sharing to the investigation.
Yan also told the press conference that the SFDA will continue working with the police in the joint war against fake and inferior drugs in terms of technological support and the handing-over of cases.
To better secure drug safety, Cui also called for stricter implementation of the Criminal Law for crimes involving fake drugs, China Daily reported.
The call followed a special judicial interpretation released two weeks ago by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on the punishment of those involved in counterfeit and inferior drug production and sales.
The interpretation makes it clear that "serious and especially serious" harm from fake and inferior drugs, a term in the law, refers to deaths, severe disabilities and serious injuries of three people or more.
According to the Criminal Law, violators will be sentenced to between three years and life in prison and be subject to fines.