A growing epidemic of fake medications in Asia

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.
Published: February 20, 2007
Asia is seeing an "epidemic of counterfeits" of life-saving drugs, experts say, and the problem is spreading. Malaria medicines have been particularly hard hit; in a recent sampling in Southeast Asia, 53 percent of the anti-malarials bought were fakes.

Bogus antibiotics, tuberculosis drugs, AIDS drugs and even meningitis vaccines have also been found.

Estimates of the deaths caused by fakes run from tens of thousands a year to 200,000 or more. The World Health Organization has estimated that a fifth of the one million annual deaths from malaria would be prevented if all medicines for it were genuine and taken properly.

"The impact on people's lives behind these figures is devastating," said Dr. Howard Zucker, the organization's chief of health technology and pharmaceuticals.

Internationally, a prime target of counterfeiters now is artemisinin, the newest miracle cure for malaria, said Dr. Paul Newton of Oxford University's Center for Tropical Medicine in Vientiane, Laos. His team, which found that more than half the malaria drugs it bought in Southeast Asia were counterfeit, discovered 12 fakes being sold as artesunate pills made by Guilin Pharma of China.

Dumplings from China sicken 175

February 01, 2008

China-made dumplings allegedly containing pesticides have sickened 175 in Japan, the latest blow to China’s reputation for producing consumer goods.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura confirmed the information Thursday. Kyodo News earlier said the figure had risen to almost 500, citing its own calculation.

Phone calls to the Chinese company alleged to have caused the crisis, Tianyang Food, a unit of Hebei Food Import & Export Group, were not answered.

Japanese companies have recalled the products from the maker of the dumplings, known as gyoza in Japan.

The recall is the latest involving a Chinese food maker, after the country’s reputation for food-processing and manufacturing was damaged last year by scandals involving poisoned seafood and lead-painted toys.

China’s food safety inspectors said in a statement it was investigating the case.


Mass food poisoning raises query over Chinese Olympics catering
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Friday February 1 2008
Safety standards in China's food industry were called into question again today with reports that dozens of people in Japan had become ill after eating imported dumplings containing insecticide.

About 80 people are reported to have fallen ill over the past two days after eating the frozen dumplings, made by Tianyang Food Processing in Hebei province. They include a five-year-old girl who fell into a coma, but later regained consciousness.

Tests by the Japanese health ministry revealed that the dumplings contained traces of an organic phosphorous insecticide that can cause severe stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Officials in Tokyo cast doubt on China's commitment to food safety, just months before hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors are expected to arrive in Beijing for the Olympics.

"I'm afraid there was a rather loose safety awareness on the Chinese side," Nobutaka Machimura, Japan's top government spokesman, said.

Chinese authorities said Tianyang Food had been ordered to halt production and recall all of its exports, most of which go to Japan. The country's foreign ministry said preliminary tests conducted on two batches of dumplings made at the factory had found no traces of harmful chemicals, but promised a full investigation.

Schools and restaurants in Japan removed Chinese-made food from their menus and TV stations warned viewers not to eat any food imported from China.

The outbreak casts doubt on China's claims to have raised food safety standards after a four-month campaign prompted by the discovery of hazardous substances in children's toys, toothpaste, pet food and other exported items.

The downside of China's manufacturing boom: deadly goods wreaking havoc at home and abroad.

In Your Face: A resident covers her face as a coal truck leaves a nearby coal mine in northern China

By By Melinda Liu Newsweek International

July 16, generic viagra nowissue - Wang Hai's mobile phone keeps buzzing with calls from clients. He's China's most famous crusader against fraudulent, shoddy and dangerous goods. The business consultant targets counterfeiters, helps duped consumers and protects whistle-blowers, many of whom face harassment or worse. "A good system for guaranteeing quality control simply doesn't exist in China," says Wang, who's been on the consumer-rights warpath for more than a decade. "Even confidential informants who report to authorities about someone selling fraudulent goods can wind up dead, under suspicious circumstances."

All of that ensures Wang is extremely busy these days. Over the past few months, a number of dramatic product-safety scandals have rocked China??"and horrified the world. The U.S. media have exposed one badly made Chinese export after anotherness, from poisonous pet food to toxic toothpaste to tires so poorly made they litter American highways with shredded treads. These revelations have raised serious questions about China's rise as factory to the world. It may seem hard to remember now, but just a few years ago, pundits and the global press were marveling at how quickly China had come on as a major manufacturing export power able, or so the thinking went, to build just about anything fast, cheap and well.

Now the true picture is emerging, and it isn't pretty. Far from the disciplined and tightly controlled economy China was thought to have, the ongoing scandals have revealed an often chaotic system with lax standards, where the government's economic authority has been weakened by rapid reforms. This sorry state is not unprecedented??"otherness economies, such as South Korea's and Japan's, experienced similar growing pains decades ago. The difference, and the danger, is one of scale, since Chinese goods now dominate the world in so many sectors. Unless Beijing can improve its image fast and turn "Made in China" into a prestigious??"or at least reliable??"brand, consumers will remain at risk and the country's export-driven economic miracle could face serious trouble.

China today resembles nothing so much as the United States a century ago, when robber barons, gangsterism and raw capitalism held sway. Now as then, powerful vested interests are profiting from murky regulations, shoddy enforcement, rampant corruption and a lack of consumer awareness. In the United States during the early 20th century, public outrage over bogus drugs and contaminated foodstuffs, fueled by graphic accounts such as Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," finally prompted passage of the landmark Pure Food and Drug Act. China needs a similar revolution today if it is to protect its competitiveness and its consumers.

The problem is especially pressing at home. Bad as the export scandals have been, conditions are even worse inside China. Factories that produce domestic goods often have far lower standards than those that produce and export clothes, consumer electronics or microchips. Zhou Qing is the author of "What Kind of God," an expos? whose sense of social mission could easily be compared to Sinclair's epic. In it, Zhou spins one hair-raising tale after anotherness. There's seafood laced with additives that lower men's sperm counts, soy sauce bulked up with arsenic-tainted human hair swept up from the barbershop floor and hormone-infused fast food that prompts 6-year-old boys to sprout facial hair and 7-year-old girls to grow breasts.

In writing his book, Zhou had plenty of material to choose from. While the export scandals are new, Chinese consumers have had it so bad for so long that their casualty count is staggering. Bogus antibiotics produced in Anhui were blamed for six deaths and 80 group falling ill in generic viagra now. In 2004, unsafe infant formula killed at least 50 babies and left anotherness 200 severely malnourished, according to media reports. Virtually every product category is affected, from candy that has choked children to killer fireworks to toxic face cream. At least 300 mil. Chinese citizens??"roughly the same number as the entire U.S. population??"suffer from food-borne sicknesss annually, according to a recent report by the Asian Development Bank and World Health Organization.

China Killed Your Dog; Now You and Your Kids are at Risk Too

by John Carey Page 1 of 2 page(s)
Fixing a corrupt system with up to 800 million players?

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
June 14, 2007

On April 1 of this year I wrote a commentary essay under the headline “China Killed Your Dog.” I said at the time that the mainstream media seemed to be brushing this story under the carpet.

The red meat of “China Killed Your Dog” is this: Chinese food manufacturers use all kinds of inexpensive products as filler and other agents in things like pet food, soy sauce, toothpaste and chewing gum.

And they don’t care if the product is toxic.

The pet food was largely poisoned by a chemical reaction which included a product called melamine, which is used in fertilizer and plastics, mixed with wheat glutin. Using this formula, Chinese manufacturers reduced production costs while still charging cutomers top dollar: as if beef or other high quality products had been used in the pet food.

Melamine is a prohibited substance in American pet food according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, melamine is a widely accepted fertilizer in China. And farmers mix it into livestock feed, pet food and other products because it is plentiful, inexpensive and usually undetected.

When New York Times reporters in China followed up on this story, they asked some farmers why China couldn’t just stomp out those few using melamine. Farmers told them everyone used melamine this way since the 1950s. The use of melamine is not restricted to a few isolate production houses: it is everywhere in Chinese agriculture.

Since April, there have been several additional revelations about how China produces food and just about everything else. American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have been spot checking to see where Chinese manufacturers cut corners and endanger consumers.

China's food safety

Jun 12th 2007
From the Economist Intelligence Unit ViewsWire
A new plan to improve standards of food and drugs

When pet cats and dogs in the US started dying in April, few would have thought that the deaths would have much relevance for the Chinese export juggernaut. But the issue looks like spiralling into a major problem for international traders, and in an effort to cool the controversy China was forced to release on June 6th its first five-year plan to improve food-and-drug safety standards. The plan has a political as well as practical motive, as the government is keen to undo the reputational damage from scandals ranging from food contamination to the sale of fake antibiotics. However, implementation of the plan is likely to be difficult.

China is no stranger to quality problems, be it in food, drugs or toys. The US pet deaths—stemming from the contamination by melamine, a chemical toxin, of a vegetable protein used in animal foods—were not all that different from many other past cases in China. However, the massive scale of the pet-food recall, involving thousands of retail products, was unprecedented. The issue also touched on an unusually emotive subject at a time of rising Sino-US trade tensions. That was not all. The story was followed by a plethora of articles in the foreign media highlighting similar cases, ranging from a series of alleged deaths in Panama last year caused by the use of industrial toxins in cough medicine exported from China to the US Food and Drug Administration's warnings over chemicals in Chinese-made toothpaste. China was on the verge of a global PR disaster.

Chinese warning over toy safety

Industrial waste, including dirty carpet fluff, paper and used instant noodle packaging, was found in some toys, the newspaper reported.

Some baby clothes contained harmful chemicals, the investigation found.

"These fluffy toys with bacteria or even viruses in them could cause children to itch if they touch them for a short time, or even cause disease over the long term," Beijing News said.

It said some toys had parts which could be broken off and swallowed.

Safety tests

China is the world's largest exporter of toys.

The US and the European Union - which have safety standards regulations - have complained about the quality of Chinese-made toys.

About half of all goods withdrawn from sale in the EU in 2006 were Chinese, according to figures from the European Commission.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, has reported that China will ban the sale of toys that fail to pass a national compulsory safety certification beginning from 1 June.

Toys that "could have a direct effect on the safety of babies and children" will have to bear the mark CCC (China Compulsory Certification) before they can be sold in China, according to a statement issued by the country's consumer watchdog.

China has been facing persistent consumer and food safety problems.

In 2004, China punished 97 government officials over the sale of fake milk powder with no nutritional value that caused the deaths of at least 13 babies in the eastern province of Anhui.

In recent months there have been complaints in the US about pet deaths from tainted wheat gluten and rice protein imported from China.

These bogus goods won't just hurt your wallet...they can be dangerous.
Counterfeit toys can present serious choking hazards or be painted with toxic chemicals.

Electronics also pose a serious threat. Products like fake light bulbs and humidifier components
often come complete with forged electrical safety certification.

"And if it doesn't meet the certification standard for electrical articles
that it purports to, then it can pose a fire hazard or a shock hazard to the consumer," Randazzo tells us.

Just as scary? Fake medical supplies. Some diabetic strips looked so real to legitimate stores…they ended up on shelves nationwide.
The strips were recalled by the FDA this past December. They were for various models of the One Touch brand blood glucose monitors.

Carolina Joyner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says there are several cases of fake medical supplies making it to the market.

"We've also seen surgical products like PROLENE mesh. This is a product that would be used in a stomach surgery.
A patient that was implanted with these products almost died," Joyner says.

Most of the products are coming from China. U.S. Customs is seizing shipments at the border.

Made in China

The Telegram

There is an old saying that you get what you pay for ? and sometimes, the less you pay,
the more you get of things you don’t expect.

North American pets owners have been suffering the results of low prices, in a way
they probably would not have expected. Recently, pets became ill after eating pet food made
from ingredients including contaminated wheat gluten. The gluten also contained the industrial
chemical melamine. The melamine increased the protein measurement of the gluten, even though
it was harmful to pets. At least 14 died of kidney problems, while countless more got seriously ill.

The gluten involved came from China, a country where standards and inspection procedures
are different and more lax than our own, and subsequently, products can be produced more cheaply.

Watching events unfold, there were probably a fair number of people who thought that North America
dodged a bit of a bullet, because at least the contamination involved only pet food: after all, it stands to
reason that contaminated base products could end up in the human food system, too.

But the fact is that cheap contaminated products from China have shown up outside that country’s
borders and caused serious harm. We just haven’t been paying attention.

There have been large-scale poisonings of humans, as the New York Times reported this weekend.

In Panama, 260,000 bottles of cold medicine were manufactured by that county’s government using drums
of glycerin from a small Chinese factory, a shipment of glycerin that had made its way through four different
trading companies.

China IS poisoning the World... Literally

In a masterful piece of investigative reporting, the New York Times describes today how unregulated Chinese chemical companies have shipped tons of deadly diethylene glycol (anti-freeze) around the world mislabeled as food/pharmaceutical grade glycerin, killing thousands of people in at least seven countries.

In fact, by the time the diethylene glycol wound up in countries ranging from Panama to India and Bangladesh, the manufacturer's name had long been removed from the containers, and falsified test results had been added stating that the contents were 99.5% pure glycerin. Instead, the drums contained almost pure diethylene glycol with several contaminants.

In at least one drug poisoning incident in Bangladesh, doctors estimate that thousands, or even tens of thousands of people were killed after taking a fever medication made with diethylene glycol rather than glycerin. In a more recent incident in Panama, hundreds of people were killed after drinking cough syrup made with diethylene glycol.

The article at the New York Times is very well written and I recommend that everyone read it carefully, and then think about how many foods and pharmaceuticals they and their families consume without any idea where the ingredients in those products came from. The USDA and FDA currently only test a minuscule fraction of the foods and drugs sold in the US.

China is giving us a firsthand look at what happens when America exports unregulated capitalism to the rest of the world. Republicans and Libertarians alike believe that capitalism can be self-regulating in the absence of government oversight. China and other developing capitalist countries prove this notion completely false.

Republicans and Libertarians want to further deregulate American industry while simultaneously dismantling oversight agencies such as the FDA and the USDA. If they can't eliminate these agencies, they will de-fund them and staff them with corporate cronies.

It is likely that the recent revelations about tainted pet food and now tainted pharmaceuticals are just the tip of the iceberg. The diethylene glycol contamination from China has been going on since at least 1992 without being disclosed to the general public. It seems very likely that many more such incidences of food and drug contamination have gone unreported as yet.

It is also interesting to note that glycerin is a common ingredient in certain pet foods and that diethylene glycol causes kidney failure as in the case of the recent pet poisonings. It would be useful, I think, for the FDA to test tainted pet foods for the presence of this toxic solvent.

Republicans and Libertarians beware of what you wish for, you just might just reap the “benefits” of unregulated capitalism in your child’s next bottle of cough syrup.

Chinese cold medicine

"The suspicion of international contamination is eerily similar to past incidents in China," Barton said.
"A dozen years ago, 89 children in Haiti died after taking cough medicine made with,
believe it or not, poisonous antifreeze that was traced back to China.

The world never got an answer from the Chinese on how this crime occurred.

"In an investigation started in 1998 when I was the chairman of this subcommittee,
we found that 155 Americans were sickened by impure gentamicin sulfate made by a Chinese firm," Barton continued.
"We never got a definitive answer on how this unapproved, impure drug ingredient got into that particular product."

"My message, and I think the message of this subcommittee on a bipartisan basis, to the Chinese government is plain: stop these shenanigans," Barton said.

Chemical Common in Chinese Animal Feed

April 30, 2007
The mildly toxic chemical melamine is commonly added to animal feed in China, a manager of a
feed company and one of the chemical's producers said Monday, describing a process that
fraudulently boosts the feed's sales value but risks introducing the chemical into meat eaten by
humans. / Associated Press Writer

Food safety worries mount

Does melamine hurt humans? Why isn't food supply protected?

By Stephen J. Hedges and Mary Ann Fergus
Tribune staff reporters
Published April 29, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The tainted pet food scare, which has swelled into a serious crisis for animal
lovers, now has spread to humans.

California officials have revealed that the contamination got into the food chain: About 45 state
residents ate pork from hogs that consumed animal feed laced with melamine from China.
Melamine is used to make plastics, but it also artificially boosts the protein level -- and thus the
price -- of the glutens that go into food.

Pet food crisis shows China's food safety woes are an international concern

By Christopher Bodeen
11:08 a.m. April 12, 2007
SHANGHAI, China – The list of Chinese food exports rejected at American ports reads like a chef's nightmare: pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella.
Yet, it took a much more obscure item, contaminated wheat gluten, to focus U.S. public attention on a very real and frightening fact: China's chronic food safety woes are now an international concern.

In recent weeks, scores of cats and dogs in America have died of kidney failure blamed on eating pet food containing gluten from China that was tainted with melamine, a chemical used in plastics, fertilizers and flame retardants. While humans aren't believed at risk, the incident has sharpened concerns over China's food exports and the limited ability of U.S. inspectors to catch problem shipments.
“This really shows the risks of food purity problems combining with international trade,” said Michiel Keyzer, director of the Center for World Food Studies at Amsterdam's Vrije Universiteit.

Just as with manufactured goods, exports of meat, produce, and processed foods from China have soared in recent years, prompting outcries from foreign farm sectors that are feeling pinched by low Chinese prices.

Worried about losing access to foreign markets and stung by tainted food products scandals at home, China has in recent years tried to improve inspections, with limited success.

The problems the government faces are legion. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used in excess to boost yields while harmful antibiotics are widely administered to control disease in seafood and livestock. Rampant industrial pollution risks introducing heavy metals into the food chain.

Farmers have used cancer-causing industrial dye Sudan Red to boost the value of their eggs and fed an asthma medication to pigs to produce leaner meat. In a case that galvanized the public's and government's attention, shoddy infant formula with little or no nutritional value has been blamed for causing severe malnutrition in hundreds of babies and killing at least 12.

China's Health Ministry reported almost 34,000 food-related illnesses in 2005, with spoiled food accounting for the largest number, followed by poisonous plants or animals and use of agricultural chemicals.

With China increasingly intertwined in global trade, Chinese exporters are paying a price for unsafe practices. Excessive antibiotic or pesticide residues have caused bans in Europe and Japan on Chinese shrimp, honey and other products. Hong Kong blocked imports of turbot last year after inspectors found traces of malachite green, a possibly cancer-causing chemical used to treat fungal infections, in some fish.

One source of the problem is China's fractured farming sector, comprised of small landholdings which make regulation difficult, experts said.

FDA blocks Chinese product in pet food probe

By ANDREW BRIDGES Associated Press Posted on Tue, Apr. 03, 2007
Associated Press
The United States is blocking imports of wheat gluten from a company in China, acting after an investigation implicated the contaminated ingredient in the recent pet-food deaths of cats and dogs.

The Food and Drug Administration took action against wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. in Wangdien, China, after the U.S. recall of nearly 100 brands of pet food made with the chemically contaminated ingredient. The pet food, tainted with the chemical melamine, apparently has resulted in kidney failure in an unknown number of animals across the country.

Wheat gluten from China has been suspected in the outbreak since the first of multiple recalls was announced in mid-March. Even more pet food could be recalled in the next few days, though there probably has been no contamination of human food, FDA officials said Monday.

The FDA reported last week that it had found melamine in samples of the vegetable protein source used in the recalled wet and dry pet foods and treats, as well as in cats that died after eating contaminated food.

The FDA still doesn't know where all the contaminated imported wheat gluten ended up, though it appears unlikely any made it into human food.

"At this time, we can say that there is no evidence to suggest that any of the imported, suspect wheat gluten formed positive lots that made it into the human food supply," said Michael Rogers, who oversees field investigations for the FDA's office of regulatory affairs.

The imported product was only minimally labeled but apparently went only to pet food producers. The FDA considers the contamination an aberration since wheat gluten generally is not considered a product at risk for contamination.

FDA officials said its nationwide investigation could turn up more pet food manufacturers that used the tainted ingredient, prompting even more products to be recalled.

Rat Poison to Blame for Pet Food Contamination

March 23, 2007
ABC News has learned that investigators have determined that a rodent-killing chemical is the toxin in the tainted pet food that has killed several animals.

A source close to the investigation tells ABC News that the rodenticide,
which the source says is illegal to use in the United States,
was on wheat that was imported from China and used by Menu Foods in nearly 100 brands of dog and cat food.

Doctors at the hospital, which is considered the Mayo Clinic of veterinary medicine,
say they noticed the kidney failure while studying sick animals from last Friday to Monday,
and traced the cases back to the 60 million cans and pouches of recalled food from Menu Food.

"I was shocked and surprised ? acute kidney failure is not a common problem," veterinarian Cathy Langston told ABC News.
"I've already heard about 200 cases, and so I bet that there are probably going to be thousands."


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