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China Bans Sales of Leukemia Drug in Latest Medicine Scare

China's drug regulator has suspended the sales of a leukemia and arthritis drug due to complaints by patients, state press said Sunday , in the latest incident to plague the nation's medicine industry.

The move comes as China's quality-control systems have been called into serious question both domestically and internationally due to incidents ranging from fake drugs to tainted food.

The State Food and Drug Administration on Saturday suspended the sale of methotrexate after children being treated for acute leukemia reported feeling pain and had difficulty walking after being injected with the drug, Xinhua news agency said.

The medicine is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, it said.

The watchdog ordered food and drug administrations in Shanghai and the Guangxi region in the nation's south to re-evaluate the drug, it said.

The latest move comes after China's former head of drug registrations was given a suspended death sentence on Friday last week for taking bribes to approve medications, some of which did not meet standards.

A Beijing court said Cao Wenzhuang was guilty of accepting 2.4 million yuan (315,000 dollars) while heading up the drug registration division of the state food and drug administration.

In China, suspended death sentences are often commuted to life in prison.

Cao's conviction follows a death sentence meted out in May to his boss, Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the agency, in a case that exposed rampant corruption at the country's food-safety watchdog.

In recent months China has faced harsh global criticism, especially from the United States, for a series of toxic exports ranging from foods and medicines, to toothpaste, toys and pet food.


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