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Blood Drug: No Hepatitis C Infection Found
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On Tuesday it was stated by China's Ministry of Health and the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) that no one had been confirmed to have contracted the hepatitis C virus by way of a blood-based drug taken off the market earlier this month

Patients treated with the drug, produced by Guangdong Bioyee Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, had been tested and so far none had contracted hepatitis C, said Zhang Jixiang, SFDA spokesman.

The patient tests were conducted by the National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products and the clinical testing center of the health ministry.

Some patients had tested positive for hepatitis C antibodies but Zhang explained this was a result of them taking the drug. It's designed to boost a patient's immune system.

"We can conclude that the hepatitis C antibodies in the drug were caused by contaminated blood plasma which the company bought illegally," said Zhang.

According to medical expert, Jia Jidong, the patients are unlikely to contract hepatitis C if the blood product contained only antibodies but no virus. "The antibodies will disappear in several months," said Jia, of the Chinese Medical Association.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease and although symptoms are relatively mild compared with other types of hepatitis it can become chronic and lead to liver cancer.

On January 16 the Health Ministry announced it was revoking the manufacturing certificates of the Bioyee and Haikou Kangliyuan Group. Both were found to be violating production standards following an investigation last December.

The company's blood-based drug was sold in 12 regions including Beijing, Shanghai, Fujian and Shandong. At least 90,000 doses have been recalled, say the SFDA.

They and the health ministry said further investigation and risk assessment was continuing and more information would be released as soon as possible.

(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2007)

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