China has launched a comprehensive check of pharmaceutical plants nationwide after a fake drug caused the death of five people.
"Drug administrations should immediately launch comprehensive checks of raw materials purchased, management of materials and examination of finished products of pharmaceutical plants," says a circular issued by the State Food and Drug Administration.
Five people died and six people were hospitalized after they were injected with the fake drug Armillarisni A injection made by the Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd. in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
The government has shut down the plant and banned the sale of all medicines made by it.
"We must further improve supervision and administration of drug production to ensure the safety of drugs and prevent such accidents from happening again," said an official with the administration.
According to a government investigation, the company purchased one ton of "propylene glycol" from drug dealer Wang Guiping in September 2005 as auxiliary material for producing the Armillarisni A Injection.
The "propylene glycol" delivered by Wang is actually diglycol, an industrial material which causes acute kidney failure if taken by humans. The company's quality inspectors failed to discover the problem.
Using diglycol, the company produced the injection, mainly for treating acute or chronic cholecystitis and chronic and atrophic gastritis.
Drug authorities in South China's Guangdong Province reported on May 3 that patients using the injection had developed acute kidney failure symptoms, which prompted immediate investigation into the case.
The police have detained the suspect Wang Guiping and have taken other people involved in the case into custody.
Further investigations revealed the Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd. had been producing four other fake drugs before its closure.