Dongguan looks at toxic medicine capsules
The front page of today’s Dongguan Times features a photo of medicine capsules that have been dumped by factories in Zhengzhou, Henan Province after being found to contain dangerous levels of chromium, which can be toxic if ingested in excessive amounts.
There are two related articles, all connected to a nationwide scandal reported last week by Xinhua:
Chinese police have detained 53 suspects and closed 10 industrial gelatin and gel capsule factories believed to have been involved in producing contaminated medicine capsules.
Police have also confiscated more than 230 tonnes of industrial gelatin in Hebei, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Shandong provinces since the scandal was exposed on Sunday, the Ministry of Public Security said in a Thursday statement.
The top headline of Dongguan Times reads, “Problem manufacturers sell a variety of capsules in Dongguan.” The article says that, according to the Dongguan Municipal Food and Drug Bureau, 14 different manufacturers of hollow gelatin-based medicine capsules have produced 23 substandard batches that could be toxic for humans. These capsules are sold to other drug manufacturers who fill them with medicines.
The Municipal Food and Drug Bureau has conducted a comprehensive investigation of pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies and medical institutions across the city and mobilized many people to help contain the problem. They say hospitals in Dongguan do not use the affected type of hollow capsules in their preparation rooms. Essentially, the Dongguan people are safe.
This medicine safety scandal has been big news in China and caused public outrage. In other times the story might have garnered a good deal of attention from the west, but recent political events have currently preoccupied many foreign correspondents.
The second article features the headline: “China’s biggest gelatin manufacturer is suspected of using waste bones in the production.” It says that Qinghai Gelatin, the largest gelatin manufacturer in the country, is suspected of collecting left over bones from restaurants and hotels to make its gelatin. The company produces about 5,000 tons of gelatin annually, 70% of which is used by the pharmaceutical industry. Another 20% goes to food additives. While not proven, the suspicion comes from the testimony of a local resident, and another industry insider who did not reveal his name. The article does not draw a specific connection between the bone scandal and the chromium scandal.
The articles do not mention the dumped capsules in Zhengzhou pictured in the photograph.