Ten people are set to file a landmark joint lawsuit against the Second Pharmaceutical Company in Qiqihar, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, for producing a fake drug called Armillarisin. They intend to sue the company for a record 10 million-plus yuan in compensation for producing a drug that inflicted serious liver damage and claimed eleven lives.
Guangzhou Daily reports the lawsuit will be the first lawsuit a group of fake drug victims has filed against a pharmaceutical company. The action comes after a series of fake drug scandals in China.
The Second Pharmaceutical Company manufactured Armillarisin in conjunction with a chemicals plant in Taixing in east China's Jiangsu Province. The toxic brew was marketed as an injection designed to cure gall bladder disease and other digestive disorders, but it caused kidney failure and killed eleven people. The survivors were forced to spend large sums of money on kidney transplants and related treatments.
The newspaper reports the police investigation is ongoing and the main suspect has been placed in custody. He has confessed the company and chemical plant replaced one of the ingredients required in the injection, propanediol, with 1.2 tons of industrial-grade diglycol.
The attorney for the victims, who are all from Guangzhou, says he will help other attorneys launch bigger lawsuits on behalf of other fake drug victims after the current appeal.
Before the Armillarisin case, a scandal erupted over the lack of quality control in Chinese pharmaceuticals after a fake antibiotic called "Xinfu" claimed at least ten lives in 2006.
The Guangzhou Daily quotes another attorney who says repeated fake drug scandals have exposed loopholes in the way China monitors and regulates the manufacture and sale of drugs. He says more stringent monitoring and enforcement mechanisms must be established across the country. Tougher compensation laws should apply to companies caught producing fake drugs.
(CRI March 21, 2007)