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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Toxic capsules reignite concerns over drug safety

(Xinhua)

09:50, April 17, 2012

BEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Rage and condemnation surged in China once more after media reports revealed that some capsule medication contain excessive amount of chromium, which is hazardous to human health.

A total of 13 commonly used drugs were packed into capsules made from industrial gelatin, which contains a much higher degree of chromium than edible gelatin, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday in a program on quality issues.

The gelatin for industrial use is made from waste leather materials, usually highly contaminated by chromium, as a result of the tanning agent used when processing leather.

Chromium can be toxic and carcinogenic if ingested in excessive amounts.

The public has expressed their anger over the issue through various outlets.

Sina's Weibo.com, a popular Twitter-like microblogging service in China, was flooded with comments, mostly condemnations, about the incident.

"Is it only the capsules which pose problems? Can we still believe in these pharmaceutical companies without any conscience?" said one microblogger, under the name "Jia Xiaoxue."

Another user nicknamed "Lixiaoyue" was similarly sceptical of the pharmaceutical industry. "Are we still able to be cured, given the medicines coming to our rescue are poisonous themselves?"

State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) issued an emergency notice Sunday to suspend the selling and consumption of the 13 kinds of drugs packed in capsules confirmed to have excessive levels of chromium.

The SFDA said it has ordered its provincial-level bureaus to investigate the cases and examine the drugs mentioned in the report.

Police in east China's Zhejiang Province said Monday they had captured 22 people who allegedly produced and sold the substandard capsules.

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