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China to "salvage" Reputation on Food, Drug Safety

China has announced fresh measures to ensure substandard drugs are stopped from reaching stores as it works to salvage its credibility following a raft of safety scandals, state press reported Thursday.

The nation's food and drug watchdog will have to abide by new regulations to improve transparency in the approval process of medicines and curb corruption within the industry, the China Daily reported.

"Transparency is the enemy of corruption. That's why we have introduced the new regulations," the paper cited the deputy chief of the State Food and Drug Administration, Wu Zhen, as saying.

Wu's comments came after the former head of the administration Zheng Xiaoyu was executed Tuesday following his conviction for bribe-taking to approve hundreds of medicines, some of which proved dangerous.

Zheng's case has come to symbolise the rampant graft and dishonesty in the country's product-safety systems which have raised alarm both in China and overseas.

The new regulations call for a panel of experts to approve new drugs, more transparent drug approval procedures, greater inspections of pharmaceutical factories and bigger fines for companies that flout the law, the paper said.

"In a renewed effort to ensure drug safety and salvage its credibility, China's drug watchdog announced revised methods... as part of the national crusade on restoring public confidence in the entire sector," the paper said in a separate editorial.

Despite such hopes, other Chinese officials were not so upbeat in the prospects of solving the problems.

"China is in a time of serious food safety risks and our task of fixing this is extremely arduous. Despite some recent improvements, the food safety outlook is no cause for optimism," Sun Xianze, head of the administration's food safety coordination department, said last week.


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