Chinese Drugs Go Unchecked

Loophole allows pharma-producing chemical companies to bypass regulation
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2007 12:54 PM CDT
A Chinese worker supervises the production line at Tongrentang, a traditional Chinese medicine industry lab in Beijing, China Friday Aug. 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – China’s massive prescription drug industry has an equally massive flaw: pharmaceuticals made by chemical companies are not held to regulatory standards. Of nearly 500 Chinese companies at a recent drug trade show, 82 were unregulated and uncertified, the New York Times discovered. “This is definitely against the law,” said one drug regulator, who acknowledges that China's food and drug agency doesn't have jurisdiction over chemical companies.

Though it has long known of the regulatory loophole, China has done nothing. “If you want to be regulated, they will regulate you,” said one chemical exporter. “If you don’t want to be regulated, they don’t.” Around 150 countries buy medicine from China. The heavily monitored US market is mostly safe, but bad medicine has already poisoned many in the developing world.