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Mon, Jul 09, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Beijing suspends sale of drug used for leukemia


China has suspended the sale of a medicine used to treat acute leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis, in the latest move to hit the country's scandal-ridden drug industry.

In a notice posted late Saturday on its Web site, the State Food and Drug Administration said it had suspended the sale of methotrexate made by Shanghai Hualian Pharmaceutical Co (上海華聯製藥).

The statement said it caused adverse reactions in several young leukemia patients in hospitals of Guangxi autonomous region and Shanghai.

"Some of the children have felt pain in their legs and some have experienced difficulty in walking after being injected with the methotrexate drug numbered 070403A and 070403B," the statement said.

"Local drug regulators have been ordered to re-evaluate the drug," it said.

The news came in the wake of a Beijing court sentencing Cao Wenzhuang (曹文莊), a department director at the State Food and Drug Administration, to death on Friday with a two-year reprieve on charges of accepting bribes and neglecting official duties.

Such suspended death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison if the convict is deemed to have reformed.

Cao, who oversaw the pharmaceutical registration department, was secretary to Zheng Xiaoyu (鄭筱萸), the head of the agency, in the 1980s. Zheng was sentenced to death in May for taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.

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