China sentences former top drug regulator to death

Posted by Reading Time: 2 minutes

A Beijing court sentenced China’s former top drug regulator, Zheng Xiaoyu, to death on charges of taking 6.49 million yuan in bribes, and dereliction of duty. The sentence follows recent food and drug safety scares in China and abroad, most recently tainted medicine in Panama, pet food in the United States and toothpaste in China. 

From the AP:

Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court convicted Zheng Xiaoyu of taking bribes in cash and gifts worth more than 6.49 million yuan (US$832,000; €619,000) while he was director of the State Food and Drug Administration, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Those bribes allowed eight companies to get around drug approval rules, it said.

Zheng also failed to make “careful arrangements for the supervision of medicine production, which is of critical importance to people’s lives,” Xinhua said, citing the court. Under his watch, six types of medicine approved were fake and pharmaceutical companies got away with using false documents to apply for approvals, it said. No other details were given.

Rebuilding consumer confidence, both in China and abroad, may prove to be a long road. In an effort to start down that road, China will implement its first food recall measures by the end of the year, an official from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, China’s main food safety agency, was cited as saying in China Daily.

“All domestic and foreign food producers and distributors will be obliged to follow the system,” stated Wu Jianping, director general of the administration’s food production and supervision department.

We took a look at China’s food safety issues before, and Rich Kuslan at Asia Business Intelligence had this to say about the recent toothpaste scare and its impact on imports to the United States:

Just how much Chinese toothpaste is imported into the U.S.? About $3.3 million. Enough fluoride, tartar agent and humectant for Flushing, NY, perhaps. The American toothpaste market has been estimated at $1.5 billion annually.

An FDA ban — taken the day after the Chinese negotiating team has left Washington, DC — of a product stated by the FDA to be “absolutely” harmless is not the kind of symbolic action to impress the Chinese. It certainly doesn’t impress the American public.