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Five Stand Trial over Lethal Fake Medicine Scandal
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Five people related to a lethal fake medicine that killed 13 patients last year went on trial in a Chinese court in the southern city of Guangzhou on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the five people, all from the Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co. of Heilongjiang Province, are responsible for allowing diglycol, a lethal chemical that can cause kidney failure, to be used in the production of Armillarisin A, a medicine to treat liver and gallbladder diseases.

The five suspects include Yin Jiade, the company's general manager, Zhu Chuanhua and Guo Xingping, two deputy managers, Chen Guifen, director of the company's laboratory test department, and Niu Zhongren, a medicine procurator.

Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court heard that Niu bought a ton of diglycol in September, 2005 from Wang Guiping, a drug dealer in Taixing of Jiangsu Province to manufacture the Armillarisin A drops.

In April, 2006, the drops were administered in the form of injections to 15 patients in a hospital in Guangzhou. Thirteen died after suffering kidney failure and the drops also exacerbated symptoms of two other patients.

The court said Wang, the dealer who forged production documents and sold the deadly chemical to Niu, will be tried separately.

It heard that before buying the chemical, Niu failed to check Wang's qualifications and did not ask him to provide samples.

The fake chemical later passed the company's laboratory test conducted by Chen. Chen told the court she found that the test results of the chemical did not conform to pharmaceutical standards and "thought the chemical was substandard, but didn't expect it to be fake or lethal".

The problems were conveyed to the company's upper management but the managers chose to turn a blind eye, the court heard.

Prosecutors said the company also forged documents to pass the country's GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) regulations.

The company has been shut down following the fake medicine incident. Xun Fubo, deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration of Qiqihar, has been sacked for negligence. Eleven other officials in the city and province were punished.

The case continues.

(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2007)

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