CHINA / Regional

Bad batch blamed for girl's death
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-08-05 08:22

HARBIN: A six-year-old girl in the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has died after receiving an antibiotic injection for a common cold, while 47 others across the country suffered adverse reactions after using the same drug.

Health authorities have recalled and banned the use of clindamycin phosphate glucose, which is mainly used to treat bacterial infections in the respiratory system.

A doctor checks a patient suffering an adverse response to an injection of Xin Fu at the Harbin Medical University's Second Affiliated Hostipal August 3, 2006. [Xinhua]

In East China's Anhui Province where the drug was produced, more than 1.02 million bottles have been recalled or sealed, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

The batch of problematic drugs were made in June and July, said sources from the Anhui Provincial Food and Drug Bureau.

The Anhui Huayuan Worldbest Biology Pharmacy Co, a subsidiary of the Shanghai Worldbest Co Ltd, produced 3.68 million bottles for injection in the batch.

By Thursday the company, based in Fuyang city, had stopped production and recalled 539,000 bottles, sealing a further 485,000 bottles.

A spokesman for the Anhui Provincial Food and Drug Bureau said officials had moved into the company premises to investigate.

"Production cannot be resumed until the investigation is complete," said the spokesman, who added the bureau had ordered a province-wide inspection of all major pharmaceutical companies.

The Ministry of Health issued an urgent circular on Thursday night, ordering all batches of the glucose injections produced in the past two months by the Anhui firm be immediately suspended from use.

"The drug has been in use for years. Many pharmaceutical plants produce the drug. So the problem might be caused by the producer in Anhui," said Mao Qun'an, a ministry spokesman.

The dead girl, identified as Liu Sichen, reportedly had an intravenous injection at about 2 pm on July 24, said Sun Pengli, director of the Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring Centre of Harbin, on Friday.

The girl became seriously ill with a high fever within 20 minutes of being given the injection. She was transferred to two hospitals for emergency treatment, but was declared dead on July 27.

Li Huahong, section chief of the publicity office of the No 2 Hospital Affiliated to the Harbin Medical University, said the girl was already in a coma when she was sent to the hospital.

Patients from provinces and regions including Qinghai, Guangxi, Zhejiang, Heilongjiang and Shandong have reported chest discomfort, kidney pain, stomach ache, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and even anaphylactic shock after having injections of the glucose produced by the Anhui company.

In Heilongjiang, 11 people aged between 17 and 70 were being treated in hospital on Friday after they were injected with the drug. Another patient was released from hospital.

Sources with the No 2 Hospital said that these patients shared the same symptoms such as low blood pressure and liver and kidney damage.

Wang Xinchun, director of the emergency ward of the hospital, said that all 11 patients were in a "stable condition" now.

"We began to suspect it was not an isolated case after we received news of the third similar case," he said.

A special medical team and wards were assigned to cope with the increasing number of patients suffering adverse effects from the drug, Wang said.

Almost all the patients were from a rural area where they received the injections from private clinics.

Sun Weiping, 27, from Hulan District in the suburb of Harbin, who decided to leave the hospital, said he fell into a coma while being given a third injection on July 25.

He was rushed to the hospital the next day after the local county hospital was unable to pinpoint the cause of his coma.

Ten days of treatment cost him more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,250).

"We can't afford it so I have to go home to recover," said Sun, who was still sweating from the stomach pain. "The doctors said my liver and kidneys were damaged."

Pointing at his daughter's ankle, where the needle left a purple mark, Guo Zhiming, a farmer from Zhaoyuan County, said: "You see that mark doctors say it is a symptom of blood poisoning."

His daughter, Guo Xiaoshuang, 20, was one of the most seriously ill patients and was only out of danger on Friday.

"She is better now. But days ago, her nose bled while in a coma," Guo said.

(China Daily 08/05/2006 page1)