Chinese company recalls tainted heart medicine from stores worldwide

A medicine manufacturer in China is undertaking an international recall of active substances used in a commonly-used ...

Posted: Jul 30, 2018 1:16 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2018 1:16 PM

A medicine manufacturer in China is undertaking an international recall of active substances used in a commonly-used heart medicine which were found to contain traces of a dangerous carcinogen, the government announced Sunday.

It is the second major Chinese medical controversy in less than a month, after hundreds of thousands of children's vaccines were revealed to be faulty, putting an unknown number of infants at risk.

Valsartan, a drug used to treat high-blood pressure and prevent heart failure, was recalled in 22 countries across Europe and North America earlier in July after batches were found to contain N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), an organic chemical that belongs to a family of potent carcinogens.

The substances were supplied by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals (ZHP), based in Linhai, in eastern China, who said they notified authorities as soon as they identified the impurity.

"We published our recall notice at midday on July 13 in China and overseas, and published the US market recall notice on July 14 Beijing time ... all the drug materials for the Chinese market were recalled by July 23," the company said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange Monday.

On July 16, ZHP said it had pulled all Valsartan products from US pharmacies, a market worth $20 million in sales for the company in 2017.

Animal studies using NDMA have shown it to cause liver, kidney and respiratory track tumors. Following the revelation, China's Food and Drug Administration said it had conducted a screening of all the country's suppliers of the Valsartan ingredients, including ZHP.

The early recall involved around 2,300 batches of the ingredient. Among the countries it was sent to were Germany, Canada, France, and Sweden.

According to Xinhua, ZHP has taken "needed measures" to put it back in line with regulations.

China's reputation at risk

The recent drug scandals come at a time when the Chinese government is attempting to rebuild trust, both domestically and internationally, in the quality of the country's products.

The government announced in mid-July it had discovered an estimated 250,000 doses of a diphtheria and tetanus (DPT) vaccine made by Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology and intended for young children were faulty, sparking widespread panic.

So far, 15 people have been detained, including the company's chairman, Gao Junfang, but the reaction on China's social media was fast and fierce before censors intervened.

"My home country, how can I trust you? You just let me down again and again," one user commented on social media.

Just days before the DPT vaccine announcement, more than 100,000 doses of a rabies vaccine produced by the same company were also found to be defective.

Major international scandals have badly damaged the country's reputation, such as the 2008 tainted milk formula scandal which put thousands of children at risk.

More recently in 2016, a criminal organization was found to be selling millions of improperly stored vaccines.

Government cracks down

In a statement released on July 25, the World Health Organization commended the Chinese authorities for their "quick and transparent actions" in dealing with the vaccine crisis.

"While the current incident is clearly regrettable, the detection of this event by an unannounced inspection shows that the regulatory authority's system of checks and balances to protect population health is working," the organization said in a statement.

But while the Chinese government is enthusiastic to show it is learning from the recent scandals, it is still deeply reluctant to allow its citizens to criticize the handling of them.

An initially open attitude to the vaccine crisis by the government, including a number of unusually vocal editorials in state media, was rapidly shut down as the outrage continued to grow.

Posts on the Chinese social media site Weibo were erased, as well as private chats on messaging application WeChat, while state media pivoted to act as a reassuring voice for confused parents.

The official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, the People's Daily, ran an interview in the past week with an expert alleging the vaccines were "safe," just ineffective.

Evidence in support of these claims has yet to be provided by authorities, nor has any estimate been given for how many children were injected with the faulty vaccines.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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