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Unidentified empty drug capsules lie in a gutter on Zhengshang road in Zhengzhou, Henan province, on April 21. [Photo / China Daily]
Efforts made to prevent tainted products from entering market
Pharmacy supervision agencies nationwide are required to strictly monitor the confiscated capsules made from toxic industrial gelatin to prevent them from flowing back into the market, said the top drug regulator.
Drug administrative authorities should keep a tight rein on unqualified capsules to make sure that these products are totally destroyed, the State Food and Drug Administration said on Monday on its website.
Nine companies have been accused of manufacturing drug capsules with industrial gelatin, which contains a greater amount of chromium than edible gelatin and may result in chronic diseases if ingested in excessive amounts, according to a report from China Central Television on April 15.
Local drug authorities should take strict measures to stop pharmacy companies from randomly discarding the tainted capsules, said the administration.
The statement came after several cases of capsules were found to have been dumped in Central China's Henan province since the scandal broke.
A large number of unidentified empty drug capsules were found discarded in a gutter in the suburban village of Ligang, in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, on April 21.
The capsules dyed the sewage water blue and formed a colorful layer stretching for more than 300 meters. The local drug bureau could not confirm whether the water and soil had been contaminated.
Sun Baozhou, the Party chief of Ligang village, said that there is no pharmaceutical company near the village, and the local government is probing the case.
"We are going to check the local residents' homes one by one to find out whether any illegal capsule-making workshops are being hidden in the villagers' houses," Sun said.
In a separate case, about seven packs of green and white capsules were found discarded in a wheat field in Guodian township of Xinzheng city.
Samples have been sent to the pharmacy authority for further checks, said Du Changtao, an official from the publicity department of Zhengzhou.
The Ministry of Public Security announced on Sunday that it had confiscated 77 million tainted capsules in Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Hebei provinces, arrested nine suspects, detained 54 people and sealed 80 manufacturing lines.
Liu Aiguo, an employee of the Hebei Xueyang Glair Gelatin Factory, was detained by police on Saturday evening after allegedly setting fire to the plant on instructions from his superiors in a bid to destroy evidence, said the Ministry of Public Security.
The Ministry of Health on Saturday required hospitals nationwide to stop using contaminated medicine capsules, and said hospitals must sort through their inventories, and remove and seal any suspected contaminated medications.
The administration announced on Monday that it had revoked production licenses of another two gelatin-capsule manufacturers in Zhejiang province for "grave violations of laws and regulations". The licenses of three pharmacy companies in Zhejiang province were revoked on April 19.
The Beijing Drug Administration has recalled 12,000 packs of tainted capsules as of Monday, and the municipal government has tightened checks on local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, the administration said on its website.
The Xiuzheng Pharmaceutical Group Company apologized to the public on its website on April 19 after the State Food and Drug Administration listed one of its products for cold treatment as being contaminated with chromium.
The company had halted the manufacturing line of the problematic capsule and withdrawn 199 batches of the listed capsules, said the company's statement.