FDA warns of contaminated Chinese meds after toddler suffers lead poisoning

Bo Ying compound--Courtesy of FDA

The problem of contaminated cold remedies has once again surfaced in the U.S. More than 7 years after diethylene glycol put authorities on high alert, a toddler in New York has suffered from lead poisoning after taking a Chinese cold remedy.

The FDA put out an alert about the product that is suspected to have caused the problems--Bo Ying compound, allegedly made by Eu Yan Sang--late last week. As Forbes contributor David Kroll notes, Eu Yan Sang is an established manufacturer of Chinese medicines, with sales of $293 million in the last financial year and a website that boasts of its manufacturing practices.

The company claims to only source ingredients from reputable suppliers and have GMP-standard plants in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Eu Yan Sang is investigating whether another company manufactured the product--which is marketed for treating influenza, fever and sneezing in infants and children--and used its brand name. The Bo Ying sold direct from Eu Yan Sang has different packaging than the product investigated by the FDA.

New York City officials reportedly found high levels of lead in the samples of Bo Ying compound they tested and passed on the information to the FDA. The regulator has also received one adverse-event report relating to an 18-month-old child who suffered from lead poisoning after being given the product.

While the FDA has moved to warn consumers about Bo Ying compound, the manufacturer is yet to issue a recall, and a version of the product--packaged like the one investigated in the U.S.--is still on sale on Amazon.com. Consumers have taken steps to raise awareness of the FDA alert, with one of two reviews of the product on Amazon.com referring to the regulator's concerns about lead levels.

- read the FDA alert
- check out Forbes' coverage