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Authorities deny 200,000 duped into drugs experiment


10:42, January 16, 2012

OFFICIALS in the eastern Shandong Province have denied online allegations that hundreds of thousands of residents were given drugs to unwittingly take part in a medical experiment.

A Weibo microblog post claimed more than 200,000 residents in Linqu County were taking unknown drugs delivered by the local health department, and some suspect they are taking part in an experiment.

"This may be driven by profits, or some departments or officials ignoring people's health - we need to know the truth," wrote an Internet user under the name "Baihuasan."

Thousands of netizens have since voiced concerns.

But county officials, backed by residents, say the drugs are distributed by health authorities to battle gastric diseases prevalent in the area.

"Villagers received health checks before taking the drugs and 185 were diagnosed with helicobacter pylori, which can cause gastric cancer," said Wang Wenxiao, chief of Xujiashangzhuang Village Communist Party committee.

Some residents praised the treatment. "I've taken the free pills for 10 days and I feel better now," said Chen Wanlu, a neighborhood Communist Party committee official in Linqu County, who suffered gastric diseases for years.

But a few villagers said they had adverse reactions, including dizziness and sickness.

"The four drugs that people took were omeprazole, tetracycline, metronidazole and bismuth potassium citrate - all regular prescriptions for gastric disease, not new testing drugs," said Wang.

In 2010, Beijing Cancer Hospital, the International Digestive Cancer Alliance and the Technical University of Munich launched a helicobacter pylori intervention project, aiming to treat 200,000 residents in Linqu County.

"People sign an informed consent form and can stop anytime," said Zhang Lian, a Beijing Cancer Hospital professor in charge of the project.


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