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China steps up probe into contaminated drug capsules

(Xinhua)

09:52, April 22, 2012

BEIJING, April 21 (Xinhua) -- More inspection teams have been sent to investigate the incident of contaminated drug capsules and find out those held responsible, said the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) Saturday.

Inspection teams from several departments, including the police, health authorities and supervision agencies, have been sent to Zhejiang, Hebei and Jiangxi provinces to supervise the investigation of the case, said a statement from the SFDA.

China Central Television (CCTV) reported last Sunday that several companies have been manufacturing drug capsules with industrial gelatin, which contains a greater amount of chromium than edible gelatin and can be toxic if ingested in excessive amounts. It named several medications that have been packaged in the contaminated capsules.

In response to the report, the SFDA ordered 13 medications produced by nine pharmaceutical companies named in the TV report to be suspended from distribution and use until they are cleared by a lab analysis.

An overhaul has been carried out on the production of drug capsule makers, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of gelatin for medical use, the statement said.

Those who refuse to cooperate in the investigation and try to cover up malpractice will be severely punished, the statement said.

Supervision agencies have started investigation into officials who might have neglected their duty in this case, it added.` The SFDA also promised to timely inform the public the development of the investigation.

Chinese police have detained 53 suspects and closed 10 industrial gelatin and gel capsule factories believed to have been involved in producing contaminated medicine capsules, said the Ministry of Public Security in a Thursday statement.

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