The deputy chief of China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), Zhang Jingli, has been removed from his post and is being investigated by an anti-corruption body, the Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Zhang, who has held the position since 2003, is under suspicion of “serious disciplinary violations” – a standard allusion by the Party Commission to bribery and corruption. There are no further details on the nature of Zhang’s offense.
This news comes three years after the former chief of this regulatory body, Zheng Xiaoyu, was executed for taking more than $900,000 in exchange for hundreds of drug product approvals. One of the approved drugs was an antibiotic that later resulted in several deaths.
Zheng Xiaoyu’s execution was considered severe even for China, a nation thought to administer more death sentences than any other. For a country with a history of poor product safety, this may be a step towards industry reform.
Chinese drug manufacturers have been blamed in recent years for several rounds of fatalities linked to poor quality or counterfeit drug products. Most recently, in March of this year, there were allegations that faulty vaccines killed four children in northern China. Authorities denied a connection between the vaccine and the deaths. In 2008, baby formula tainted with melamine killed at least six infants and sickened thousands more.