China shuts down 10 drug capsulemakers

Shut them down. That is what China's top drug regulator told state authorities to do to any manufacturer whose drug capsules are found to have unacceptable levels of chromium.

Enforcement authorities have apparently done just that, Bloomberg reports. Citing reports from the Xinhua News Agency, it says 10 plants have been closed and 53 suspects have been detained.

Earlier this week, authorities said they were recalling 13 medications filled in capsules believed to contain excessive chromium. Instead of food-grade gelatin, the companies allegedly were using an industrial grade product made from scraps of leather, according to a report on CCTV.

China's State Food and Drug Administration in a statement Thursday said tests found excessive chromium in 23 batches of capsules from 9 companies and singled out Tonghua Golden-Horse Pharmaceutical Industry as one of those 9, reports Bloomberg.

Managing food and drug safety in the country is challenging as Chinese authorities try to eliminate the use of illegal additives often manufactured in makeshift factories. In 2008, 80 people in the U.S. died when adulterated crude heparin from China made its way into finished products marketed by Baxter International ($BAX), prompting congressional investigations.

- read the Bloomberg story