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
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
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.