Former "model worker" probed for graft

Updated: 2006-12-31 14:49

Beijing - A former head of China's food and drug watchdog, once hailed as a national "model worker", is under investigation on suspicion of taking bribes, the Caijing magazine said.

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Zheng Xiaoyu, 61, was director-general of the State Food and Drug Administration from 1998 to 2005, known for his "iron hand" style in promoting good manufacturing practices in medicine.

Caijing did not say who was suspected of bribing Zheng, nor how much was involved. It said he had been named a "model worker" and "outstanding entrepreneur" .

Fake or bad drugs have killed dozens in China in recent years and raised questions about drug safety. Public fears grew in 2004 when at least 13 babies died of malnutrition in Anhui after being fed fake milk powder with no nutritional value.

In July, China fined a drug company, Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co., and revoked its licence after its drug meant to treat gastric disorders killed 11 people.

In October, the drug watchdog banned a company in the eastern province of Anhui from producing injectable antibiotics and sacked its top managers after the drug was linked to six deaths.

The magazine said Zheng's case had been exposed by a former secretary currently in detention and under pressure to confess to corrupt practices.

Last month, another of Zheng's former secretaries was jailed for 15 years for weapons possession and accepting 800,000 yuan ($102,500) in bribes.

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