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Tainted Medicine Scares in China

Posted by Author on October 14, 2008

Radio Free Asia, 2008-10-13 –

Amid fallout over contaminated milk powder, two new scares over possibly tainted medical supplies in China have come to light.

HONG KONG—Health authorities in China say two batches of an injection fluid containing Siberian ginseng are “substandard” following laboratory tests, after three people died in the southwest of the country.

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan have recalled two batches of ginseng injection vials following the deaths, which came after patients received the medication by injection.

Sun Yuemin, director of the No. 2 Hospital under the Kunming Medical School, was quoted in official media as saying it was clear from the appearance of the packaging that the color of the liquid varied from bottle to bottle, and the contents appeared turbid.

Six patients at the No. 4 People’s Hospital in Honghe Autonomous Prefecture suffered strong adverse reactions, including vomiting and becoming comatose, after being injected with ciwujia Siberian ginseng extract from the two batches, Sun said.

Calls to Sun’s office during working hours went unanswered on Friday.

Further tests are still being carried out on the ginseng fluid after three people died in hospital last week.

Recall ordered

Manufactured in December by Wandashan Pharmaceutical, in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the two batches were ordered recalled after the deaths of three people who had received the injections.

A Wandashan employee surnamed Zhang said the company was still waiting for the full lab tests.

“The main thing is that the results of the investigation haven’t yet been published,” the employee, surnamed Zhou, said. “They didn’t get enough samples for testing from the two recalled batches, so we’re still waiting.”

Health Ministry experts have run tests on hundreds of samples of “Cuwujia Injection” herbal remedies, extracted from a variety of Siberian ginseng, which is often used to treat thrombosis caused by weak liver and kidneys.

It is also believed to be helpful in treating coronary heart disease, nervous exhaustion, and menopausal problems in traditional Chinese medicine.

They have so far found no toxins, such as rat poison, pesticide, or herbicide. Further investigations are now under way into the cause of the three deaths.

But they did say the two batches were “substandard,” official media reported……. (more details from Radio Free Asia)

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