Chinese hospitals using fake blood protein in patient drips

You might want to rush to blame this all on the questionable source, as some tried to do recently with the NY Times report on Chinese toothpaste. Only this time the source is…China.

Since this story is blocked in China, I’ll paste it all. (By the way, Peking Duck is currently partially blocked in China due to some keyword in the Kristof thread below. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out what word is causing the trouble and fix it.)

Chinese investigators say nearly 60 hospitals and pharmacies in north-eastern China have been using fake blood protein in patients’ drips. Albumin, or plasma protein, is used to treat patients suffering from shock and burns and during open-heart surgery.

Experts suggest that the fake product could be life-threatening for those already in a serious condition. The scandal is the latest to expose weaknesses in China ‘s regulation of food and drug standards. The food and drug administration in the north-eastern state of Jilin found 18 hospitals and more than 30 pharmacies sold or were selling false batches of the albumin.

“There was no element of protein, so it could not perform its intended function,” said the administration’s deputy director, Xu Fei. “These were out-and-out fakes,” he added.

Officials did not say whether anyone had died or fallen ill through using the false protein, though one Chinese newspaper said it had led to one death. China Central Television cited an official saying those making the false albumin were making a 300% profit, assisted by shortages of the genuine product.

The administration said its investigations had “effectively cleaned up the market”. China has launched a nationwide clampdown on counterfeit products after a series of scandals. In one of the worst cases 13 babies died from malnutrition after being fed fake baby milk.

Last month the country’s top food and drug regulator was sentenced to death for taking bribes to approve medicines not properly tested for safety. Toothpaste, anti-malarial drugs and pet food have also been found to contain contaminated or fake ingredients. The tainted toothpaste has been blamed for dozens of deaths in Panama.

The US and EU have expressed concern over food and drug imports from China , and have pressed Beijing to improve its oversight.

I realize the US has been named for selling salmonella-tainted fish or whatever. It really doesn’t compare to companies getting together to plot the sale of fake health products to rake in faster, easier profits, knowing their greed can kill people. The tainted infant formula was the crowning example – 40 separate businesses connived to boost profits by, in effect, endangering the lives of babies. I guess you have to admire their sheer chutzpah, as you also damn them to hell.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

Well, Richard, the bbc article may be blocked in China, but it strikes me as being the same story reported here:

Having said that, I’m having no trouble accessing Peking Duck. What’s this partial block?

June 12, 2007 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

The foreign media’s stories covering this travesty are about a day ahead of the CCP mouthpieces. Once the media overlords determined that local authorities can be flogged without any shame falling on Beijing, they went ahead and printed the story.

June 12, 2007 @ 3:42 pm | Comment

This is a huge problem. According to the WHO 10% of all drugs worldwide are counterfeits. It estimates that 2005 fake drugs worth 7,5 billion dollar were sold. This could go up to 75 billion till 2010.
It says that in some African, Southeastasian and Latinamerican countries 50% of the drugs are fake.
In China in 2001 allown 100.000 people died of counterfeit drugs, and this is only a very conservative estimation.
Biggest exporter of such drugs is India followed closely by China.
Welcome to the healthy new world.

June 12, 2007 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

I also read these news in yesterday’s printed edition of the Shanghai Daily:

Maybe Shanghai is more “open” than Beijing, anyway :o)

June 12, 2007 @ 10:07 pm | Comment

Sorry, off topic.

I’m having trouble accessing the topic about Kristoff with the 100+ comments. Seems to be blocked. Anybody else having trouble with it?

June 12, 2007 @ 10:41 pm | Comment

BBC News is usually blocked in China – of course it is ridiculous that they block everything even when it’s news being reported in China!

June 12, 2007 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

I’m guessing the trip word might be the correct spelling of Far Long Gone in Will’s latest post, currently second to last in the queue.

June 12, 2007 @ 11:10 pm | Comment

“I’m having trouble accessing the topic about Kristoff with the 100+ comments. Seems to be blocked. Anybody else having trouble with it?”

Yes, same problem here.

June 12, 2007 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

Not long ago I read an article about US hospitals using synthetic blood without the patients knowledge and according to that article it lead to several deaths across the nation and included a significantly higher risk of premature death for those who had received it.

If I can find that story again, I’ll post the link.

June 12, 2007 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Hello Richard.
I am livingin Xiamen.The pekingduck has been my favorite blog for more than a year. Since the earthquake around last christmas I cannot get to it except by using a proxy like now. This is my first mail to you. I cannot have done anything evil.
Whenever I try to get to your site without proxy, I get the following response”Forbidden
You don’t have permission to access / on this server.
Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/1.3.37 Server at Port 80″
If it was you who denied my access, I think it happened due to an error of yours. My IP number is
Thank you for your help.
Best regards

June 12, 2007 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

Tianhong, many readers have written me with the same problem. I did not block you and I don’t know how to fix the problem. I’m really sorry. If you ever want to send a comment, send by email and I will post it for you.

Chris, the BBC is blocked in China. You cannot access the BBC article here, so I provided the entire story. As I noted upfront, this is China itself making the charge, so of course they are covering it. About my site block: In the Kristoff post below, opening the comments immediately makes the dreased “cannot find server” window appear. No one could access it from China all day today (at least no one I know). Hopefully it’s opening now (though for me it’s still blocked).

June 12, 2007 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

BTW, everyone be sure to thank friends/acquaintences they know who work at Siemens, Cisco, 3com and Nortel next time they go home. That cast of characters are the ones who helped china buid the GFW and continue to help them.

June 13, 2007 @ 12:53 am | Comment

Richard, the person who questioned the reliability of NYT’s reporting was me. There were actually 2 stories:

* Cough syrup in Panama. Some 20 people died in Panama. NYT pinned the guilty party — not the one who actually made the chemical but the one who made the leap to use or misled others to use in cough syrup — on a Chinese party/person. NYT has been the lone reporter on that one so far. Given that effectively was a criminal offense, I think it’s prudent not to rely solely on some potentially racy news reporting.

Domestically, if a news outlet tries to railroad another party with some unethical techniques, e.g. NBC’s 1993 GM truck explosion story, it will pay in the end. Internationally, the wronged party tends to have little recourse, especially coming from countries fitting certain preconceived profiles. IMHO ethicality is a rare commodity in international news reporting.

* Toothpaste. China managed the PR poorly and I compared that to how Intel initially responded to the Pentium FP bug problem.

There is no denying that China has some huge issues such as comparatively poor food and pharmaceutical safety. If you get down to it, China is still a developing country. But if China aspires to be anything beyond that, it’d better shape up quick. Often it’s Chinese who suffer from those types of bullshit first.

June 13, 2007 @ 3:18 am | Comment

Thanks for the intelligent response, Jxie. My one comment: Being a developing country is no excuse for things like the infant formula scandal. Many countries have passed from undeveloped to developed without similar incident. The country may be developing, but the 40 companies involved in the scandal were developed already – you can’t blame what they did on poverty or lack of education. It was a simple lack of moral values, and as much as I love China, I do worry about a moral values deficit there, brought on partly by Mao who made such values a negative. I know, however, that the whole phenomenon of ma mu goes back further than Mao, and I am afraid it will continue to haunt China until it’s wiped out. It’s really time for something akin to the Enlightenment in China. That is the only way such incidents will stop, when people realize it’s fundamentally wrong. There will always be exceptions – we hear occasional horror stories in the most developed nations of serious corrupt business practices (though just about never of anything even close to the infant formula mess). These things stand out as major international scandals, like Worldcomm and Enron and Parma and that Japanese Internet company (name escapes me). In China, sadly, the stories like the one referenced in this post are literally a daily occurrence, and I know of no parallel elsewhere. I care about this because it is really, really bad for China and the price could be huge. I give the government some credit, as they are now acutely aware of the crisis and are not going to tolerate the perpetrators. But they’re also partly to blame for their get-rich-quick philosophy.

Okay, off to work.

June 13, 2007 @ 9:24 am | Comment

I think the CCP is more than partially to blame for the lack of morality in China. “getting rich is wonderful” and all that crap to divert people from real issues… I mean it really goes back to stuff like the philosophy of the ends justifying the means whereby there can be an excuse made up for any immoral act… So if those are th principles the CCP plays by and promotes so that people will go along with them, then the peopel are bound to not take the moral highground, heck, they arent even allowed to take a moral high ground in China.

All the benefits in China are basically doled out by the CCP. Collaborating with the corrupt party is well known to get you richer.

Si the freaky part of it is that if people are actually punished for being dicks like these baby formula murderes, then the balme will lie on the freak party.

My point is that the freak party can not stop this kind of problem because if they dig to deep into the problem, the source will be them.

ANd if the CCP is responsible for corruption and evil in China (its rampantness that is..) then if it starts to punish people for being bad, the philosophy of good and bad will come to light and people will think that way about them, which is exactly what it doesnt want.

The CCP needs people to believe in selfishness and evil so that they dont wake up and kick them out.

June 13, 2007 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

Ok your gonna think this is far out but you know what i think?

I think that all the times the CCP comes down on officials for being corrupt, its a facade, a fake.

I think in the public they say corruption is bad, but those corrupt officials are trained on the CCPs own way. So if those corrupt officials get dumped on or prosecuted, all they have to do is come out and say how bad the party is and expose its evil secrets.

So I think when they say they have executed Mr. whoever from the food inspection place, they probly just gave him a lot of money to leave china and play dead.

Because the CCP needs these corrupt officials, they do all the CCPs dirty work, they threaten the masses etc.

SO essentially the corrupt officilas have the CCP by the balls. bad people thrive in the CCP cadres, and the CCP is only useful in the deals of the corrupt.

June 13, 2007 @ 12:26 pm | Comment

The toothpaste scandal has just had another incident. Counterfeited Colgate toothpaste with DEG was just recalled in 4 states acccording to a report in WaPo (link follows)

The toothpaste is labeled “Made in South Africa,” however, Colgate-Palmolive doesn’t import toothpaste from South Africa to the U.S..

Hmmmm… I wonder where it could have come from? Investigation under way?

June 15, 2007 @ 4:40 am | Comment

I just heard on Canadian radio news that the suspected Chinese sourced
fake Colgate toothpaste story has now spread to Canada. Some glycol tainted bogus Colgate has been seized from some dollar stores in Ontario.

June 20, 2007 @ 10:58 am | Comment

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