More details are emerging about a Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturer who produced a drug which killed nine people in south China's Guangdong Province.
Xinhua has learnt the alleged fraudulent chemical dealer Wang Guiping forged various documents including his business, drug registration and manufacturing licenses to sell products to pharmaceutical companies.
Wang allegedly sold one ton of the chemical diglycol claiming it was propylene glycol to a pharmaceutical company in Heilongjiang Province. For the transaction he used the name of the Taixing General Chemical Plant in the eastern Jiangsu Province.
He made a 7,500-yuan (US$937.5) profit on the 14,500-yuan sale price according to investigations carried out by Jiangsu police and the provincial drug administration.
The buyer, Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., produced the medication ‘Armillarisni A’ using the fake chemical and this resulted in the deaths of nine people who were given the drug in the southern Guangdong Province.
Armillarisni A is administered by injection to treat acute cholecystitis and chronic and atrophic gastritis.
However, the Qiqihar firm’s Armillarisni A product caused pain in the alimentary canal and stomach as well as causing kidney, liver and nerve damage, said Liao Xinbo, vice director of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Health.
Investigations by Jiangsu police and drug administration also found Taixing General Chemical Plant had offered Wang invoices and allowed him to do business in its name on condition of a one-percent return on the invoices.
However, Wang continued to trade in the name of Taixing General Chemical Plant even after the plant had ended its allegedly illegal partnership with him in July 2005.
Wang, 40, a junior middle school graduate who trained as a tailor and began trading in industrial chemicals in 2004 has been arrested by Jiangsu police.
"Wang Guiping got reckless with greed and the Taixing plant gave him openings to pharmaceutical plants," said an anonymous official with the Taixing Municipal Food and Drug Administration.
Cao Yongwen, director of the Qiqihar Municipal Food and Drug Administration, told Xinhua that the Qiqihar pharmaceutical company never identified the chemical as fake.
The company failed to test the so-called "propylene glycol" as required under State Drug Administration regulations before purchase nor did it cross-check the licenses provided by Wang Guiping, said Cao.
The company's analysts realized the material was substandard but inexplicably had still put it into production with the consent of company executives, said a staff member who wanted to be identified only as Wang. After perfunctory tests the company had released the product.
Five company employees, a materials buyer, general manager, two deputy factory directors in charge of technology and supply and an analysis director, have been taken by police to Guangdong Province for further questioning, provincial government officials said.
The fake Armillarisni A drug was sold in Guangdong for 10.5 yuan (US$1.31) per dose while its two competitors sold at 11.68 yuan (1.46 dollars) and 12.9 yuan (1.61 dollars), said Cai Quanmao, of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Health.
Drug authorities in Guangdong Province reported on May 3 that patients receiving the injections at the No.3 Hospital affiliated to the Sun Yat-sen University had developed acute kidney failure and this prompted an immediate investigation.
Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered government departments to launch a thorough investigation into the incident and intensify supervision and regulation of the pharmaceutical market.
The government has shut down the Qiqihar plant and banned the sale of all its medicines. Efforts are also being made to trace and recall drugs sold by the company.
Following the incident the government has launched a review of pharmaceutical plants nationwide.
(Xinhua News Agency May 24, 2006)