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| 25 March 2013 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC
Say goodbye to China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA); instead, say hello to its new name, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).
The agency recently underwent a reorganization that saw much of China's food and drug regulatory powers consolidated into the agency, elevating it back to a ministerial-level agency directly under the State Council. Since 2008, the agency had been downgraded to a position of lesser importance after a series of corruption scandals that resulted in the 2007 execution for Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of SFDA, reportedly for taking bribes in return for approving substandard medicines.
In the meantime, further scandals have continued to erupt, threatening both Chinese consumers and international consumers of Chinese products. In 2008, for example, tainted heparin thought to have originated from China sickened hundreds and killed more than 80 people, shaking US confidence in the sector.
"Consumer confidence in the mainland's food and drug industry has been shattered," a report last month in the South China Morning Post observed.
In response to these ongoing concerns, the National People's Congress (NPC) of China moved in March 2013 to consolidate power back into a newly-endowed SFDA with ministerial-level powers. The change will see it assume control over several food regulatory bodies, though little changes in the way it regulates healthcare products.
While the new authority is mostly intended to assist its ability to regulate food, it could improve its ability to regulate drug and device products as well, by putting it in a more visible and powerful position to argue for funding. The move is also intended to reduce bureaucracy and help promote innovation, wrote the Xinhua News Agency, a mouthpiece for the Chinese government.
The CFDA will be led by Zhang Yong, former director of the food safety commission, reportsChina Daily.
The agency has already updated its logo and moniker on its website.