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China Cracks Down on Bogus Blood Protein Products

More than 2,000 bottles of fake blood protein have been discovered at 18 hospitals and 39 retail and wholesale drug outlets in northeast China's Jilin Province, China's drug watchdog said on Monday.

Altogether 1,554 bottles of the bogus blood protein, or human albumin, have been administered to patients, while the remaining 431 bottles have been seized by local medical investigators, said the State Food and Drug Administration.

Bogus blood protein products have also been found in other provinces including Shanxi, Qinghai, Hubei, Shandong, Liaoning, Chongqing and Xinjiang, said the administration, which refused to elaborate on the number of bottles found in those regions.

It said it more details will be provided once the investigation is completed.

Human albumin, or albumin made from human blood plasma, is used to in after surgeries and to treat liver or kidney failure.

The counterfeit doses could have been lethal to the patients who received them, say the experts,

"It could lead to death if the patients were allergic to it," Jin Shaohong, deputy head with the National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, was quoted by China Central Television as saying.

The fake blood products were packaged to appear to be made by legitimate pharmaceutical companies and were comprised of Polysorbate 80, also known as Tween 80, an additive used to make tablets.

A shortage of albumin has created a market for fake blood protein where unscrupulous venders can make 300 yuan on a bottle that costs them about 15 yuan (about US$1.92) to make.

Yan Jiangying, the administration's spokeswoman, told First Financial Daily that the central government launched a nationwide investigation into fake blood products in March and medical investigators and police are trying to find out how the fake products entered the hospitals.

China has 33 companies producing blood-based products on its mainland. Due to a lack of human blood plasma, they can only make 13 million bottles of human albumin each year.

China's drug watchdog has tightened controls on blood-based medicines requiring every batch of human immunoglobulin to be checked beginning June 1.

The regulation will be extended to include all blood-based products including human albumin from January 1, 2008.

(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2007)

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