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Key figure in fake drug scandal gets life sentence
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A key figure in a fake drug scandal linked to 14 deaths has been sentenced to life imprisonment, Nanjing-based Yangtze Evening News reported today.

The Taizhou Intermediate People's Court on May 23 found Wang Guiping guilty of selling fake drugs, endangering public security and falsifying registered capital.

Fourteen patients died after taking a fake drug in a Guangzhou hospital from April 2006. The story made headlines nationwide and led to an investigation of the senior level of the country's drug regulator.

A later investigation showed that the drug Armillarisni A contained a chemical called diglycol that can cause kidney failure. Wang had passed it off as a normal ingredient to its producer Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, the court said.

Wang reportedly made a profit of about US$900 from the deal.

The court also fined Wang 400,000 yuan (US$57,000) and confiscated about 290,000 yuan of profit from his diglycol sales. Wang was also found selling the cheap chemical materials to at least two chemical plants under the name of other more expensive ingredients.

Meanwhile, victims and their family members have sued the No. 3 Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University for a combined 20 million yuan.

A man died of kidney failure on January 23, raising the death toll to 14, while more victims were struggling in critic situations.

Zheng Xiaoyu, the late drug chief, was executed in July 2007 because of corruption and dereliction of duty. The scandal and a death linked antibiotic injection made in Anhui Province as well as some other food and drug safety problems urged the government to launch a nationwide crackdown on fake drugs and tighten its rules on food and drug management.

(Shanghai Daily June 4, 2008)

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