China sweeps up gang that made and sold 90M toxic capsules

China has interrupted another group it says was illegally manufacturing capsules from chromium-laced gelatin. A lot of them.

Eleven people were arrested in China's Zhejiang Province by police and food and drug administration officials, according to the Xinhua news service. They seized 440,000 capsules and 800 kg of partially finished products made with industrial gelatin that contained unacceptable levels of chromium. But before they had been detained, authorities said they had produced and sold about 90 million capsules.

China has stepped up efforts to battle drug counterfeiters and others who have tainted the country's reputation on safety. In 2012, Chinese authorities closed 80 "illegal production lines" and seized 77 million contaminated capsules because they contained excessive levels of chromium. The plants were using waste leather to make their drug capsules. Seven people eventually went to jail, some of them for as much as 11 years.

Chinese drugmaker Biostar Pharmaceuticals ($BSPM) had to destroy millions of capsules that it found came from a suspect supplier and that tested for high levels of chromium. It fired the purchasing manager it said bought the products.

- read the Xinhua story