June 3, 2007: The People’s Republic of
China slammed a death penalty sentence on the
former director of its State Food and Drug
Administration (SFDA), on charges of corruption,
say reports from officially controlled Chinese
Zheng Xiaoyu was the commissioner of the Food and
Drug Administration from its founding in 1998
until mid-2005, when he was removed from his post.
He was detained in February in a government
investigation of the agency, which is supposed to
be China’s food and drug watchdog. Two other top
agency officials have also been detained.
A Beijing court sentences the death penalty for
taking over $850,000 (€632,000) worth of bribes in
the form of cash and gifts. Incidently, Zheng also
received a sentence of seven years' imprisonment
for dereliction of duty.
In addition, all Zheng's personal property was
confiscated and he was deprived of his political
rights for life. His wife and son are also
implicated and are still being investigated, among
others who are believed to be involved.
The degree of Zheng's corruption is reportedly
extensive. According to the court, he "sought
benefits" for eight pharmaceutical companies,
including the Hainan Kongliyuan Group from South
China's Hainan Province, by inappropriately
approving hundreds of drugs and medical devices
during a three-year period between 2001 and 2003,
six of which proved to be fake.
Dozens of people have been killed by fake and
inferior products in China during Zheng's tenure,
according to media reports.
In one high-profile case in May 2006, nine people
died in China after being injected with a
concoction of Armillarisni A that contained a fake
and toxic ingredient.
In Panama last year, more than 40 people died
after taking cough syrup, antihistamine tablets,
and calamine lotion which contained glycerine that
was contaminated with diethylene glycol (DEG), a
poison used in antifreeze and as a solvent. The
glycerin was originally sourced from China.
Zheng, however, still has the right to appeal.
The potential for China's pharmaceutical market is
vast and has been growing rapidly, however, many
pharma firms have long been avoiding doing
business in the country because of concerns over
corruption and the degree of product quality
control and regulation, as well as fears of that
their intellectual property (IP) cannot be
The SFDA has just announced it will send 90
officials to carry out drug safety inspections in
15 provinces across the country over the next two
BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT