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China to Tighten Drug Safety Checks

China will tighten the inspection of pharmaceutical products to prevent drug safety accidents, the country's drug watchdog said Tuesday, disclosing that the licenses of 353 medicines have been revoked since August 2006.


Wu Zhen, deputy director of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), said about 3,049 applications for producing new drugs were turned down since last August to fend off shoddy manufacture of medicines.


Attending an online interview hosted by the central government's website, Wu said the administration has required its officials to leave offices to check whether the production conditions meet the description of the applications filed to the SFDA.


"For those that fail to reach the standards, the administration will return the applications or have their licenses revoked," Wu said.


He said the administration in the previous year "effectively" handled 14 large-scale health hazard cases caused by bogus drugs, including the case of Qiqihar fake Armillarisin A injection that killed eleven people and the case of Xinfu antibiotic that killed at least ten.


Another 17 health accidents concerning shoddy medicine facilities were uncovered.


Wu said this year will be a critical year in improving drugs production supervision, with the ambitious goal to eliminate major health crisis caused by problematic food and drugs.


"The task for all SFDA staff is arduous; the responsibilities are big. But we are confident to take good care of the work," Wu said.


In late January, China made an investigation into allegations of former SFDA chief Zheng Xiaoyu for abusing his power to take bribes while ignoring drug approval regulations.


(China Daily February 28, 2007)

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