The authorities yesterday have announced that four more drugs made by a Heilongjiang Province drug maker in the center of a medical scandal are tainted with a poisonous industrial chemical.
It was found that patients receiving treatment in a local hospital in Guangzhou, capital city of south's China Guangdong province May 15, 2006 have shown symptoms of acute renal failure after having taken the fake injection produced by a chemical works in Qiqihar, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. The spurious medicines have led to four deaths.
The provincial Food and Drug Administration have announced that diethylene glycol, which was earlier found in "Armillarisini A injection" that had killed at least five people, was also found in another four drugs. The four are Tongxinshu, an enema fluid used as a painkiller in children; Puerarin, which is injected for blood vessel diseases; Yansuan Naifupan, injected to treat pain; and Shuqisong, injected to treat arthritis and respiratory system disorders.
The administration have said that a total of 12 batches of the five drugs made by the Qiqihar a No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co Ltd are tainted. The initial investigation showed that a Jiangsu Province farmer, Wang Guiping, sold about 1 ton of diethylene glycol under labels saying it was propylene glycol made by the province's Taixing Chemical Factory.
The investigators said that Wang, a former salesman at the Taixing Chemical Factory, had bought the diethylene glycol from a factory in Changzhou, a neighboring city in Jiangsu. The Taixing factory is a producer of dyes. Wang is in police custody. Niu Zhongren, an experienced worker in charge of purchase at the drug maker, bought the chemical at more than 6,000 Yuan (US$750) per ton. The imported propylene glycol costs about 17,000 Yuan per ton.
The officials have said that the company mixed the diethylene glycol in at least 72,000 ampoules of "Armillarisini A injection" in March. Niu and six others at the drug maker, including three top company officials, have been detained.
The Hospital Affiliated to Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong's provincial capital Guangzhou bought 3,600 ampoules of the tainted Armillarisin, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday. The hospital used 887 ampoules on its patients. The hospital authorities have said five people had died of kidney failure caused by the injections.
The police have placed seven suspects, including factory leaders, under arrest. The, police officers from Guangdong province arrived at the pharmaceutical factory for on-site investigations on Wednesday.
Meanwhile experts feel that a complete overhaul of China's drug production enforcement laws is necessary following the deaths of five people administered with counterfeit medication. While some were concerned with drug safety in hospitals, and others are condemning the drug maker, there is a general feeling about the ineffective drug inspection system in China at present, and a appeal for a fairer drug production and distribution environment in China. Many experts believe that China has been weak in imposing penalty measures on the producers of unqualified products, and appealed for stiffer penalties to be imposed.