Archive for the ‘drug safety’ Category

China pours money into drug, food safety

August 8, 2007

BEIJING – China’s food and drug regulator said Wednesday it would meet regularly with its U.S. counterpart to crack down on counterfeit pharmaceuticals and boost product safety.

China is also building new safety testing labs, and upgrading food safety inspection offices at 16 ports and basic infrastructure in central and western China as part of a multiyear, $1.1 billion project, said Yan Jiangying, spokeswoman for the State Food and Drug Administration,

The announcement was one of a series made in recent weeks aimed at allaying global fears that China is not doing enough ….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070808/ap_on_
re_as/china_tainted_products_2

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China: So Big, So Powerful, So Disorganized, So Corrupt

August 6, 2007

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues a warning to farmers, most of them get it the same day or a day later.

In China, the same piece of information vital to food safety may take months or years to reach farmers in the countryside – if it ever does make it.

The problem for China is mainly two fold: first, China has 200 million farming households and 500,000 food-producing companies. So the problems in policing such a “system” are immense by western standards.

The second reason clearly points to a failure of the communist party system inside China.

Local party functionaries are largely ineffective in managing the simplest new piece of information from Beijing.

When Beijing senses that things are not all well in the countryside; a threat to local bureaucrats is likely just around the corner.

Earlier this year, China ordered local authorities to address the root causes of rising public discontent, state media reported, in an apparent sign of growing concern over social stability.

Local officials were told they will be denied promotions unless they minimize social unrest in their areas, Xinhua news agency quoted a top Community Party official as saying.

“Officials who perform poorly in maintaining social stability in rural areas will not be qualified for promotion,” it quoted Ouyang Song, a senior party official in charge of personnel matters, as saying.

Beijing blamed inept local communist party officials for illicit CD factories, air and water pollution, and rioting over the “one child” policy near Hong Kong.

One local party official told me, “We are the whipping boys” for Beijing.  “Beijing will not take responsibility in front of the west, but they will shift the blame on to us, poor education and other policy problems.”

But many westerners say the number and quality of local officials is just not adequate. And local officials are expected to monitor a vast panoply of companies and activities.

Consider the pharmaceutical industry in China.

“There’s no quick fix,” says Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization’s top representative in China. “China has perhaps been cutting some corners because the focus has been on growth. But they have 5,000 companies that produce medicine.   That’s far too many.”

Some experts inside China say that due to illegal drug production the actual number of companies involved in the  pharmaceutical “industry” may be  as many as 6,700.

“The government has a limited ability to enforce things,” said Bekedam. “They need to start with simple things: reduce the number of people you monitor.”

China’s new Food and Drug Administration director said local businessmen and officials did not understand what Beijing expects – or are worn out by their requirements.”We must face the fact that there are still some problems which cannot be ignored,” Shao Mingli was quoted as saying at a seminar in a transcript posted on the agency’s Web site.

“Some areas are not fully aware of the importance, hardship and complexity of this work. They fear the difficulties and suffer battle fatigue.”And many believe, despite pressure from Beijing, there is little incentive for local bureaucrats to follow Beijing’s orders or lead.

The difficulty is compounded by what some academics have termed “local protectionism,” the close relationship between government and business in many cities. Xue Lan, associate director of the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, said local officials do not always think it is in their best interests to recognize corruption.

“Sometimes local regulatory agencies do not necessarily make the best effort to control issues because it may harm the local economy. So they let it go,” Xue said.

China experts also point out that for decades, the Communist Party has held primacy over the rule of law in China. It is almost impossible to bring legal action against party leaders and other high-ranking individuals. In addition, the country’s legal system is based on socialist principles that value the needs of the society more than those of the individual.

A China expert told us: “If it is good for the economy and people are making money, nobody will really police how we get there.”
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Postscript: Because China’s drug, food and product safety woes are linked to the communist party, we believe there are many similar concers for Vietnam.

Related:
Tricky Vietnamese Truth About Catfish

What Does Beijing’s Central Government Consider a “Threat”?

People Living Under Communism: Very Limited Rights (If Any)

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

In this run up to the Beijing Summer Olympics, which begin a year from now, you see many “happy face” “news” reports from westerners in China.  As I am writing this, Meredith Viera of the NBC TODAY show is sampling food in China during a report from China. Of course, NBC has a huge contract to televise the 2008 Summer games and is in no position to offer any criticism of China.
 
So there is a different view of China, an alternative to NBCs, that needs to be known and understood.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Updated August 8, 2007

China’s “Drug Abuse” Problem: Below Standard Pharmaceuticals Have Been Deadly

July 8, 2007

(See the very learned comment at the end of this text)

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 8, 2007

China announced today that is had halted sales of Chinese-made methotrexate, a key drug in fighting leukemia. Xinhua news agency reported that children injected with the drug sometimes felt so much pain that they were unable to walk.

In reporting that sales of methotrexate had been suspended, China’s regulators of drugs and pharmaceuticals reiterated that over the course of the last year, the manufacturer of a drug responsible for at least 11 deaths had been put out of business and four other companies were permanently suspended from doing business. At least 128 companies had their Good Manufacturing Practice certificates revoked, but they can apply for re-inspection and resume drug production if they meet national standard.

In Panama, 83 people died last year after taking medicines contaminated with a Chinese-made toxin according to a senior Panama prosecutor who spoke to us on Thursday.

China’s quality-control systems coving nearly all products from soy sauce to heart medication has been seriously called into question if not destroyed in the near-term. At first, investigators thought the unsafe and poorly made products were all shipped overseas. Now it is clear that China’s domestic products are tainted as well.

All this as China’s senior government official for drug registrations received a suspended death sentence on Friday last week for taking bribes to approve medications, some of which did not meet standards.

A Beijing court said Cao Wenzhuang was guilty of accepting 2.4 million yuan (315,000 dollars) while heading up the drug registration division of the state food and drug administration.  In China, suspended death sentences are often commuted to life in prison.

Over the course of the last four years, there have been several indications of problems in food and drug manufacturing and testing.  But this became a crisis earlier this year when investigators in the United States began to look into a large number of dogas and cats falling ill and many dying.

The pet illness epidenic was traced to Chinese-made pet food laced with a fertilizer component named melamine. Companies in China had illegally added melamine to wheat gluten and rice protein in a bid to meet the contractual demand for the amount of protein in the pet food products.

The melamine is much cheeper than meat.  So Chinese manufacturers were able to cut manufacturing costs while still charging top dollar for their products.

Subsequently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began testing all foods and products with the potential for oral ingestion like toothpaste.  Now all seafood from China is banned from sale in the U.S. and many products such as toothpaste, if proven manufactured from China, have to be removed from shelves and returned to the point of entry or destroyed.

The cutting of corners and use of substandard or dangerous ingredients seems to have been across the board in China.  Even children’s candy and other treats have been found to be contaminated.

More as it becomes available…..
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WE GOT SEVERAL E-MAIL ON THIS ESSAY! HERE IS THE ONE MOST INCLUSIVE:Re: China’s “Drug Abuse” Problem: Below Standard Pharmaceuticals Have Been DeadlyAn interesting article, John, but one where you have it completely back to front.  The problem is in the United States and, more generally, the West; not here in China.

Chinese people are notoriously suspicious of products and brands and have been for a very long time. 

“Downgauging” or corner cutting to reduce product costs is very common and everyone knows it, except apparently uninformed American industrialists who naively rush to China themselves to reduce costs, with no regard to the consequences – all entirly foreseeable.

Clearly, faulty manufacture here will result in litigation in the US, but no possibility of claims against Chinese counter-parties.  They don’t care.  They just want to make money.  Further, the legal system here could not be more different.

The American Chamber of Commerce is part of the problem too in their opposition to Chinese wage increases here and keeping wages and costs unreasonably low.

Don’t expect things to get any better any time soon.  The demand on factories here is too great on factories.

Of course, outsourcing has always been a high risk strategy.  There is no substitute for owning your own factories.  Nor, as far as I can tell, can Americans take criticism.  The problem must lie with “the other”.

Taking investment to Vietnam won’t change a thing, unless the approach changes.

Have a happy day …

Regards … Name withheld – ShangHai
Good links to try:
to Diary of the Mad Pigeon, third world county, Faultline USA, Stageleft, Big Dog’s Weblog, Walls of the City, The Pet Haven Blog, The Pink Flamingo, The Bullwinkle Blog, Conservative Cat, Adeline and Hazel, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Best of all RIGHT TRUTH!
http://righttruth.typepad.com/right_truth/

China may need a fresh approach to regulating its often unruly economy

July 8, 2007

By Joseph Kahn
International Herald Tribune
July 8, 2007

BEIJING: Phony fertilizer destroys crops. Store shelves are filled with deodorized rotten eggs, and chemical glucose is passed off as honey. Exports slump when European regulators find dangerous bacteria in packaged meat.

More product safety scandals in China? Not this time. These quality problems prompted a sluggish U.S. government to tighten food and drug regulation 101 years ago, when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the act that created the Food and Drug Administration.

Like America’s industrializing economy of a century ago, China’s is powered by zealous entrepreneurs who sometimes act like pirates. In both cases there were epidemics of fatal fakes, and regulators too inept, corrupt or hamstrung to do much about it.

Read the rest at:
http://www.iht.com/articles/
2007/07/08/news/beijing.php?page=1