08/08/2018, 15.14
CHINA – TAIWAN
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After vaccines, carcinogenic substances found in hypertension drugs

Taiwan blocks imports of the active ingredient Valsartan made in China. Carcinogenic contamination is 200 times higher than allowed. Lab testing continues in Europe and the United States. Changsheng Biotech mixed anti-rabies vaccines with expired products.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Valsartan, the active ingredient produced by Zhejiang Tianyu Pharmaceutical, contains carcinogenic substances that are 200 times higher than allowed.

The Chinese-made active ingredient used in hypertension drugs was found to be contaminated with a carcinogenic substance called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration announced the finding after testing drugs imported from China following reports about its harmful nature.

Zhejiang Tianyu Pharmaceutical last month had reported to the European Union about possible impurities in the active ingredient due to changes in the production process in 2012.

The company exports to Europe, the United States, Japan, South Korea and some African countries.

Taiwan’s health authorities last Saturday announced a recall for all drugs containing Valsartan. This follows a similar decision in other Western countries.

Testing by European labs show that Chinese-made Valsartan contains 200 times the maximum acceptable quantity (0.3 parts per million) of carcinogens.

According to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), these percentages cause cancer in one person out of 5,000 taking the maximum dose of 320 milligrams a day for seven years.

The hypertension drug is widely used. In Europe about 54 per cent of men and 53.7 per cent over 50 suffer from hypertension.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Changsheng Biotech, the pharmaceutical company at the centre of recent vaccine scandals, continues.

In China, the investigation team set by the authorities announced yesterday that the Changsheng Biotech anti-rabies vaccines were mixed with other expired products.

In addition, the drug company has not recorded dates since April 2014, including batches sold abroad. The company provided forged production data for four years.

In 2017, Changsheng provided Chinese health units some 113,000 expired anti-rabies vaccines and about 250,000 ineffective vaccines for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus (DPT).

These drugs were given to hundreds of thousands of children, some as young as three months old. When the scandal broke, it caused concern ang anger among parents with young children.

In the past few months, investigators uncovered complicity between the Health Ministry and manufacturing companies. President Xi Jinping called the whole thing "appalling".

Public officials charged with monitoring have been caught up in the affair.

Court verdicts show that public officials accepted bribes worth hundreds of thousands of yuan to approve vaccines.

According to some economists, the lack of serious competition in China’s pharmaceutical sector is a serious problem.

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