Historical Archive

The Dark World of Chinese Medicines

29/08/2012 – The largest producer of active ingredients in the world does not say everything it should say

Reuters tells us about the investigations of Philippe Andre, a detective by profession, who spent the last months of his life traveling around the Chinese pharmaceutical industries to discover a world that was in some ways dark.

BAIT AND SWITCH - In May 2011 Andre went to a pharmaceutical factory in Shanghai that looked “too” pristine. Well, this "factory" was nothing more than a decoy for foreign investors who arrive and find clean floors and everything in order, even if the employees essentially had nothing to do. These "showrooms" were made four years after Beijing promised to improve its standards after 149 Americans died of contaminated heparin - an anticoagulant - from Chinese laboratories.

FORGERY – Yet nothing has really changed. The Chinese industry continues to sell products and active ingredients made in an approximate way to say the least and without any control. Lembit Rago, coordinator of the group of quality and safety of medicines, inserted in the World Health Organization, said he knows that in the country there is a falsification of data relating to the quality of the medicines produced, and that no one bothers to check what comes out of those factories. The products are then shipped to Africa, a continent where there is a lack of effective controls.

THERE IS A CRIME OCCURRING – Poverty brings no checks. For this reason, the dark continent is an ideal place of conquest for medicines with incorrect dosages or low-quality active ingredients. Edward Sagebiel, spokesman for Eli Lilly and Co., a pharmaceutical company, is nothing short of clear-cut: "We are witnessing a global crime against health." Furthermore, Sagebiel underlines how his company's products must pass through very strict controls, while the Chinese ones can pass without a fight.

SUPERPOWER ALSO IN PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMISTRY – The position of the Asian giant in the pharmaceutical market

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Fedaiisf Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane degli Informatori Scientifici del Farmaco e del Parafarmaco