China orders harsh punishments amid capsule scandal

China’s food and drug safety watchdog has ordered local authorities to hand out prompt and severe punishments to producers of gel capsules containing excessive levels of chromium.

Starting from May 1, producers of pharmaceutical gelatin, capsules and capsule drugs should conduct strict checks into every batch of their raw materials in every category prior to production, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said in a statement on its website.

Their products should also be scrutinized before being put on sale, the statement said.

Moreover, the statement urged relevant enterprises to examine their products that are already on the market and immediately recall any product found to contain excessive levels of chromium.

The SFDA also published a list of 10 batches of drugs that were packed in chromium-tainted capsules. It urged an immediate recall of the products concerned and prompt investigations into the cases by local authorities.

An investigative report from China Central Television (CCTV) earlier this month revealed that several companies manufactured drug capsules with industrial gelatin made from scraps of leather material, which contains a greater amount of chromium than edible gelatin.

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

Xinhua