Friday, October 10, 2008

Chinese herbal injections fail tests in deaths probe

Experts have found the ciwujia injections suspected of causing the deaths of three people in southwest China failed to meet standards, authorities in Yunnan Province has said.

Tests on samples from batches 2007121511 and 2007122721 of "Ciwujia Injection" used in the No. 4 People's Hospital of the Honghe Autonomous Prefecture of Hani and Yi Nationalities showed the products were substandard, said Sun Yuemin, the expert team leader investigating the deaths and a senior doctor with No. 2 Hospital affiliated to Kunming Medical College.

"The herbal injections were produced by Wandashan Pharmaceutical. They differed in shades of colour. Some looked turbid and some rubber caps of the bottles were swollen," he said." But we are still unsure what caused these problems."

Experts dispatched by the Ministry of Health had tested 180 samples from the two batches, but found no toxins, such as rodent poison, pesticide or herbicide, Yunnan Provincial Health Department announced on Thursday.

The problematic injections were produced in December by Wandashan Pharmaceutical in northeastern Heilongjiang Province. The medicine was extracted from ciwujia, a type of Siberian ginseng.

In total, 19 people used the injections in the No. 4 People's Hospital of Yunnan's Honghe Prefecture, said hospital president Liu Ru.

Six patients had strong adverse reactions, including vomiting and comas, after being injected with ciwujia from the two batches. Three died in hospital on Monday. The others were described as stable, but still under observation.

The firm recalled 3,600 bottles of injections, less than 10 percent of the total of the two batches, following the deaths of the three people, said Feng Dianguo, the company's deputy party chief.

"Nearly 48,000 bottles were produced for the two batches, and we recalled 3,600 bottles, or 360,000 milliliter. The rest had been used."

Wandashan Pharmaceutical, with more than 570 staff, had suspended production to cooperate with the investigation.

Siberian ginseng injections are often used to treat thrombosis caused by weak liver and kidneys. It is also believed to be helpful in treating coronary heart disease, nervous exhaustion and menopausal problems.

Source: Xinhua

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