China sends 7 to prison for producing toxic capsules

China has stepped up efforts to battle the counterfeits and the weak links in its API and drug supply industries that have tainted its reputation. It has raided unlicensed plants and made arrests, and now it has sent some of those involved to jail.

Seven people who operated three companies that made capsules from chromium-laced gelatin have been sent to prison, according to the South China Morning Post, citing the official Xinhua News Agency. Some of them were sentenced to up to 11 years in prison for making toxic products, it said.

Last year, Chinese authorities closed 80 "illegal production lines" and seized 77 million contaminated capsules because products contained excessive chromium. The plants were using waste leather to make their drug capsules. Nine people were arrested at the time.

Chinese APIs and other products have become an indispensable part of the global drug manufacturing supply chain and efforts to cut costs. But doing business there comes with risks. The FDA is expanding its efforts to inspect plants using new fees levied on makers of generic drugs. But China has also broadened its effort, often stepping in to close problem operators after Western drugmakers have collected evidence against them. Several years ago, it executed a government official who was found to be taking bribes to overlook outlaw plants.

- read the South China Morning Post story