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Drug safety drives restore reputation
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The integrity and strong sense of responsibility held by staff of the country's top food and drug agency have been the driving force behind successful drug safety campaigns, a top official said yesterday.

"The achievements of the campaigns during the past 18 months fully demonstrate that our team is highly capable and reliable," vice-commissioner of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) Wu Zhen said.

He highlighted successful campaigns to restore the agency's reputation, which was besmirched by previous corruption scandals.

Former SFDA commissioner Zheng Xiaoyu was executed in July for corruption and dereliction of duty. He reportedly gave the green light to substandard drugs in return for fat kickbacks from pharmaceuticals manufacturers.

In the most notorious case involving the Heilongjiang-based Qiqihar No 2 Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, counterfeit Armillarisin A injections approved during Zheng's tenure claimed 13 lives.

"Zheng's case humiliated the food authority's teams and tarnished their overall image," Wu said, adding that Zheng's case was not enough to overshadow the merits and accomplishments of the country's drug regulators.

Wu targeted the clearing up of negative effects by Zheng's case as a priority for national campaigns.

The country's drug supply has been made safer since the comprehensive rectification of four major processes - drug research and development, production, distribution and clinical use - during the campaigns, Wu said.

Drug companies withdrew drug registration applications in more than 7,300, or 24 percent, of cases, which indicated an enhanced sense of responsibility among enterprises accountable for drug safety and quality.

In addition, about 300 unqualified drug and medical device manufacturers have been shut down and 180 kinds of drugs have been pulled from shelves because of the campaigns, Wu said.

Wu explained that increased economic integration worldwide means that drug safety is now a global issue, reflecting the growing importance of international cooperation in addressing concerns.

(China Daily December 4, 2007)

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