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China Cracks the Whip Against Drug Manufacturers Who Fail Quality Norms

As reports of the allegedly substandard Chinese products make constant headlines in the western media, the emerging Asian giant has decided to crackdown.

For starters it has suspended the sale of a drug used to treat acute leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the past week alone, a former department head at the State Food and Drug Administration was sentenced to death on bribery charges, and it was announced that production licenses of five drug makers had been pulled over the last year and that 128 others had been penalized.

The moves come as U.S. regulators ordered a recall of three more Chinese-made products deemed dangerous to children, part of a lengthening list of recent U.S. government actions to ban, recall or restrict Chinese imports from juice to toothpaste suspected of containing high levels of toxins.

China's pharmaceutical industry is lucrative but poorly regulated. Some companies try to cash in by substituting fake or substandard ingredients.

The latest U.S. recalls announced Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission covered jewelry the agency said could cause lead poisoning. They also covered a magnetic building set and plastic castles with small parts, which it said could choke children.

Chaotic food and drug safety mechanisms, murky laws, corruption, and intense competition among government agencies are among the ills supposedly afflicting the country.

But China retaliates such criticisms are only a ruse for protectionism. All the same it has stepped up enforcement of health and safety rules in the export industries that drive its economic growth.

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. Ltd.

The statement said it caused adverse reactions in several young leukemia patie
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