In the pharmaceuticals department, Cao, 45, had the power to approve pharmaceutical production in China from 2002 to 2006
The Chinese government has been trying to toughen its drug regulation amid mounting criticism — at home and abroad — that the quality of its drug, food and other products is poorly regulated.
In the past week alone, a former department head at the State Food and Drug Administration was sentenced to death on bribery charges, and it was announced that production licenses of five drug makers had been pulled over the last year and that 128 others had been penalized.
The moves come as U.S. regulators ordered a recall of three more Chinese-made products deemed dangerous to children, part of a lengthening list of recent U.S. government actions to ban, recall or restrict Chinese imports — from juice to toothpaste — suspected of containing high levels of toxins.
In a notice posted late Saturday on its Web site, the State Food and Drug Administration said it had suspended the sale of methotrexate made by Shanghai Hualian Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
The statement said it caused adverse reactions in several young leukemia patients in hospitals of Guangxi autonomous region in southern China and the eastern financial center of Shanghai.
«Some of the children have felt pain in their legs and some have experienced difficulty in walking after being injected with the methotrexate drug numbered 070403A and 070403B,» the statement said.
«Local drug regulators have been ordered to re-evaluate the drug,» it said.
On Friday, a Beijing court sentenced Cao Wenzhuang, a department director at the State Food and Drug Administration, to death with a two-year reprieve on charges of accepting bribes and neglecting official duties, according to his lawyer, Gao Zicheng.
Such suspended death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison if the convict is deemed to have reformed.
Cao, who oversaw the pharmaceutical registration department, was secretary to Zheng Xiaoyu, the head of the agency, in the 1980s. Zheng was sentenced to death in May for taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.
In the pharmaceuticals department, Cao, 45, had the power to approve pharmaceutical production in China from 2002 to 2006.
The sentencing was followed a day later by a report in the state-run China Daily newspaper that the food and drug watchdog had pulled the production licenses of five drug makers over the last year, and penalized 128 other companies.
China’s pharmaceutical industry is lucrative but poorly regulated. Some companies try to cash in by substituting fake or substandard ingredients.
The latest U.S. recalls announced Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission covered jewelry the agency said could cause lead poisoning. They also covered a magnetic building set and plastic castles with small parts, which it said children could choke on.
The U.S. agency routinely issues such recalls. Since a large share of products sold in the U.S. are made in China, the majority of the recalls involve Chinese-made products.
China has responded by stepping up enforcement of health and safety rules in the export industries that drive its economic growth. Beijing has also heatedly defended its record as a supplier of reliable goods, and has complained the safety warnings may be driven by protectionism.
The country is currently overhauling its chaotic food and drug safety mechanisms, 바카라사이트 which are handicapped by competition between government agencies, murky laws and corruption.
Under Zheng’s 1998-2005 tenure as top drug regulator, his agency approved six medicines that turned out to be fake, and the drug-makers used falsified documents to apply for approvals, state media have reported.
His death sentence was unusually heavy even for China, believed to carry out more court-ordered executions than all other nations combined, and likely indicates the leadership’s determination to confront the recent scares involving unsafe food and drugs.