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Harmful capsule tests underway

By Wen Ya (Global Times)

09:03, April 19, 2012

Results from the tests on the problematic capsules recently conducted by media could not be used as evidence for law enforcement, according to the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).

SFDA issued an emergency notice Sunday halting the sale of 13 pharmaceutical drugs packed in capsules found to contain excessive levels of chromium after media outlets revealed the capsules were made from industrial gelatins.

"Whether these drugs really have excessive levels of chromium depends on the results of our further investigations," said an insider with SFDA as quoted by the China Youth Daily.

The investigation is still underway and SFDA will publish the results as soon as possible, according to its website.

Though previous media reports have published the test results on 13 batches of the problematic capsules, SFDA did not think the results could be used as a basis for law enforcement.

On Monday, SFDA sent a team to Xinchang, Zhejiang Province, to investigate the production of the capsules.

Before the investigation, China Central Television (CCTV) reporters purchased capsules throughout the country and sent them to the Chinese Academy of Inspection & Quarantine Comprehensive Center affiliated with Central Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine for testing.

According to the center's website, it could test items including food, dietary supplements and chemical products.

The center's test showed the amount of chromium in the 13 pharmaceutical drugs exceeded China's legal standard, which even reached over 90 times the legal limit in extreme cases, CCTV reported.

"The previous test has legal effects," Sun Zhongshi, an expert with SFDA Center for Drug Reevaluation, told the Global Times Wednesday. "It could provide a reference for the SFDA. But it'll be better for the SFDA to do the test because it specializes in supervising food and medicine."

"If the previous test is denied by the SFDA, we could also question its test results," Zhu Lijia, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, was quoted as saying by the China Youth Daily.

In fact, what the SFDA suspects is not the test results but its procedures, according to Fu Siming, a law professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

"The normal procedure is that SFDA releases the test results and then an announcement is reported by the media. But the current procedure is that media exposes the problems," Fu said.

On Monday, SFDA held a conference over strengthening medicine supervision and illegal sales.

Police have detained nine people at two gelatin plants that supplied toxic industrial gelatin to drug capsule producers, local authorities in Zhejiang said Wednesday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.


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