Posted 24 April 2012
By Alexander Gaffney
Chinese regulatory authorities have announced the expansion of a probe into pharmaceutical capsules illicitly laced with Chromium, saying they have arrested nine more people, detained a further 45 and seized more than 77 million capsules, reports Reuters.
Chromium is a heavy metal that has been associated with cancer in some circumstances. Chinese authorities originally announced on 15 April that they had found 13 pharmaceutical products-including antibiotics-to have been manufactured using industrial gelatin containing excessive levels of the metal, reports the Wall Street Journal.
At that time, State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) officials announced the arrest of 22 people, and announced the spread of the probe to 43 factories.
That move came after announcing 27 March 2012 that SFDA would be partnering with the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) to clamp down on the production of counterfeit medicines.
"The government often launches campaigns to safeguard consumers by cracking down on harmful chemicals added to food, yet regulatory oversight remains a major problem," noted Reuters after the 15 April incident.
SFDA's 22 April announcement indicated they had shut down more than 80 capsule manufacturing lines in the Zhejiang, Hebei and Jiangxi provinces of China.
MPS said in a statement it is "pushing with all its strength for speedy investigations and speedy resolutions" of the issue, reports Reuters.
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