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HANGZHOU - Police in east China's Zhejiang Province said Monday they have captured 22 people who allegedly produced and sold pharmaceutical capsules containing excessive levels of chromium.
By Monday noon, police had detained 11 suspects from four capsule manufacturing companies in Xinchang county, according to a spokesman from the county's public security bureau.
On Sunday, an investigative report from China Central Television revealed that several companies in Xinchang, a major pharmaceutical production hub in China, had manufactured drug capsules with industrial gelatin, which contains a greater amount of chromium than edible gelatin and is illegal to use for making drug capsules.
The report showed that the industrial gelatine used to manufacture the capsules was made from scraps of leather material. The report said the gelatin came from companies in northern Hebei Province and eastern Jiangxi Province.
Local police will investigate 43 capsule manufacturing companies in Xinchang and suspend operations for those found to be operating outside the law, the spokesman said.
Late Sunday night, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) issued an emergency notice, calling for suspended sales and consumption of a list of drugs that may have been packed into the contaminated capsules.
The SFDA has instructed local bureaus to monitor the drugs specified in the notice.
The Beijing Drug Administration has banned sales of the drugs listed by the SFDA since Monday and has begun to conduct inspections of drug manufacturers and drug stores to ensure compliance.
A similar move has been made by authorities in Zhejiang and a province-wide inspection of all companies that may have been involved in the manufacture of the contaminated capsules is under way, according to the Zhejiang Food and Drug Administration.
The Chinese Pharmacopoeia sets clear standards for capsule manufacturers and requires drug makers to purchase capsules only from licensed manufacturers, the SFDA notice said.
The notice said drug manufacturers will face legal consequences if inspection results indicate that they have failed to meet government standards.