Six officials nabbed in drug scandal
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-08 06:20
Six senior officials from the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) have
been accused of bribery and taken into custody by the procuratorial department
Xicheng District People's Procuratorate is questioning Cao Wenzhuang, 44,
director of the Department of Drug Registration, and a number of other
administration officials, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.
The administration refused to comment on the report.
All six suspects were arrested on January 12 at an annual conference of the
national food and drug administration in a northern suburb of the capital, the
It is not yet clear what sums of money are involved, as the cases are still
The judicial detention of the officials followed an order delivered by the
Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which is the top watchdog of the
Chinese Communist Party.
Insiders say the arrests follow the detention of a private businessman who
has not been identified as investigations are ongoing suspected of offering
bribes to drug administration officials.
This is the second time senior SFDA officials have been arrested since Hao
Heping, former director of the Department of Medical Devices, was detained last
June accused of taking bribes.
The Xicheng District People's Procuratorate, which has finished investigating
the case against Hao, is ready to indict him.
Though there are a series of pharmaceutical enterprises involved in Hao's
case, sources say the Cao investigation could be even more complicated.
Mismanagement in the testing and approval of new drugs has been cited as one
of the major factors that has led to skyrocketing prices of medicines and huge
profits in recent years, experts say.
Shao Mingli, the new SFDA director, has repeatedly criticized loopholes in
the examination and approval procedures for new drugs, reported the
Beijing-based Caijing Magazine, which was published on Monday.
The SFDA dealt with 10,009 new drugs in 2004, while just 148 medicines were
approved in the United States.
Both Cao and Hao have worked as secretaries to Zheng Xiaoyu, who retired as
the head of the SFDA in May last year, the magazine said.
In the first 11 months of 2005, China handled 258,700 medicine-related cases
involving drugs worth 430 million yuan (US$53.75 million).
Over the same period the authorities banned 114,000 unlicensed manufacturers,
demolished 461 illegal factories, withdrew 66 operation licences and imposed
criminal penalties on 34 people, sources at the SFDA said recently.
(China Daily 02/08/2006 page2)