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Official: Most China-made performance-enhancing drug ingredients legally exported
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China's drug watchdog refuted reports on the country's alleged large amount of performance-enhancing drug ingredients exports on Wednesday, saying most China-made ingredients that can be used in making the drugs were legally exported.

"Most of such products were exported with company contracts, export licenses and warrants from the importing countries, and their use was clearly stated," said Wu Zhen, deputy head of the State Food and Drug Administration, at a press conference.

Active pharmaceutical ingredients, instead of preparations ready for use, make up the majority of China-exported drugs, while few preparations were sold to developed countries, said Wu.

"If China's ingredients were used to produce performance-enhancing drugs and illegally sold after being legally exported, the importing countries should bear the responsibility," Wu said.

The U.S. media reported China was determined as a major source of doping agent raw materials after the U.S. Justice Department launched a massive crackdown on steroids, human growth hormone and other doping agents late last year.

"We need the support of other countries on fighting doping as it is a challenge to the whole world," Wu told reporters.

He said China has strict laws on the production and export of doping agents and related products, and the government has stepped up anti-doping measures since 2007.

A nationwide crackdown on the illegal supply of doping agents was launched in the second half of last year as China strove to protect the coming Olympics from drug abuse.

"We welcome objective coverage and international supervision on China's anti-doping work," said Wu. "We won't accept, we even firmly oppose, irresponsible and distorting reports."

He told the press the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has notified China of 37 Chinese enterprises which it said had illegally sold doping agent ingredients to the U.S..

Investigation by China's Ministry of Public Security shows 13 of the involved companies had exported such ingredients but most of them were doing legal business, some even with the permission of the DEA, said Wu, adding the exceptional illegal cases had been handled.

Among the remaining 24, 17 companies were not registered and had only false information, making further probes impossible, he said.

Meanwhile, he said China's investigation into the Greek doping incident had been underway since April. No date had yet been fixed for a report.

In April, Greek media reported 11 weightlifters tested positive in a surprise inspection by the World Anti-Doping Agency and claimed the reason was that the athletes had taken a dietary supplement produced by the Auspure Life Science Co. in Shanghai.

China is the world's biggest producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Its API exports reached US$10.6 billion in 2006, according to the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products.

The country's exports of medicinal and health care products have been expanding by more than 20 percent on average each year, with over 60 percent being APIs and medical dressings, figures from the Ministry of Commerce show.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2008)

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