China suspends sales of leukemia drug

Updated: 2007-07-08 16:26

BEIJING - China's drug watchdog announced Saturday it has suspended the sale of a drug used to treat acute leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis in the latest move to hit the  scandal-ridden drug industry.

In a notice posted late Saturday on its Web site, the State Food and Drug Administration said it had suspended the sale of methotrexate made by Shanghai Hualian Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

The statement said it caused adverse reactions in several young leukemia patients in hospitals of Guangxi autonomous region in southern China and the eastern financial center of Shanghai.

"Some of the children have felt pain in their legs and some have experienced difficulty in walking after being injected with the methotrexate drug numbered 070403A and 070403B," the statement said.

"Local drug regulators have been ordered to re-evaluate the drug," it said.

The moves come as US regulators ordered a recall of three more Chinese-made products deemed dangerous to children.

The Chinese government has been trying to toughen it drug regulation amid mounting criticism that the quality of its drug, food and other products is poorly regulated.

In the past week alone, a former department head at the State Food and Drug Administration was sentenced to death on bribery charges, and it was announced that production licenses of five drug makers had been pulled over the last year and that 128 others had been penalized.

On Friday, a Beijing court sentenced Cao Wenzhuang, a department director at the State Food and Drug Administration, to death with a two-year reprieve on charges of accepting bribes and neglecting official duties, according to his lawyer, Gao Zicheng.

Cao, who oversaw the pharmaceutical registration department, was secretary to Zheng Xiaoyu, the head of the agency, in the 1980s. Zheng was sentenced to death in May for taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.

In the pharmaceuticals department, Cao, 45, had the power to approve pharmaceutical production in China from 2002 to 2006.

China has stepped up enforcement of health and safety rules in the export industries that drive its economic growth.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours