Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday ordered a thorough investigation into allegations of corruption against Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).
The probe was ordered after a State Council executive meeting, presided by Wen, heard a Ministry of Supervision report on Zheng, who retired in June 2005.
Zheng, 63, neglected his duty to supervise the drug market, abused the administration's drug approval authority, took bribes and turned a blind eye to malpractices by relatives and subordinate officials, the meeting heard.
"The corruption had a vile effect, as Zheng's offenses threatened public health and tarnished the image of the Party and the government," the report said.
The State Council, which called for stiff penalties for the guilty, described the case as typical of power abuse and dereliction of duty.
Zheng was appointed director of the drug watchdog when it was set up in 1998.
In 2002, China adopted national standards to replace local standards for approving medicines.
Zheng first came under investigation by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in December last year.
Zheng, who worked in the drug industry for 23 years, was the head of a pharmaceutical factory in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, until 1994.
In the latest case concerning drug safety, 90,000 doses of a blood-drug produced by Guangdong Bioyee Pharmaceutical Co Ltd have been recalled till yesterday.
People have tested positive for hepatitis C antibodies after being treated with the drug, said health officials, without revealing the number of infected.
The pharmaceutical company "seriously" violated manufacturing procedures during production, officials said.
(China Daily January 25, 2007)