China fights against counterfeit drugs

Chinese police today announced it has entered a national campaign against counterfeit drugs, the second in recent weeks. According to a statement from the Ministry of Public Security, 1,770 suspects were arrested and more than 1,400 pharmacies in manufacturing or marketing of counterfeit drugs were found during an operation that involved 16,000 police officers.

The suspects were using banned chemicals to produce drugs, reusing expired drugs and falsifying documents for authentication. Most of the counterfeit drugs were being sold online or through pharmacies or clinics that are not approved.

Following a previous scandal, on 4 November, China announced it had arrested a gang that manufactured and sold counterfeit drugs. 114 people were arrested and more than 65 million counterfeit pills were seized. A series of scandals relating to food and medical safety erupted in China in recent years. In 2007, Zheng Xiaoyu (郑筱萸), former head of the state food and drug administration (SFDA), was sentenced to death and executed for accepting bribes, kickbacks totaling $850,000 in exchange for permission some drugs which have proved dangerous.

This case prompted the government to promise to improve the control of food and medical industries, but the incidents continued. The most spectacular of these scandals occurred in 2088 when it was discovered that a toxic chemical used in the manufacture of synthetic resins, melamine, was added to dairy products, killing at least six babies and causing discomfort to 300,000 others.