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Sunday 27th May 2018

China to execute former FDA chief

29th May 2007

Authorities in Beijing have passed the death sentence on a former head of the country's food and drug regulator, for taking bribes to approve sub-standard medications, official media reported.


Zheng Xiaoyu was sentenced to death by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court for taking bribes worth more than US$832,000 during his tenure at the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) from 1998 to 2005, Xinhua news agency reported.

The 62-year-old former pharmaceutical manufacturer had allowed eight companies to gain approval which would otherwise have failed. One sub-standard antibiotic had caused the deaths of at least 10 people.

China is struggling to improve regulatory standards amid a wave of fake and shoddy pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs.

The court said Zheng failed to make carful arrangements for the supervision of medicine production, which is of critical importance to people's lives.

The judgement said six types of medicine approved by the agency were fake, and pharmaceutical companies were able to win approvals using fake documents.

Zheng's actions had greatly undermined the efficiency of China's drug monitoring and supervision, endangered public life and health, and had a very negative social impact, the court said, concluding that the death sentence was appropriate in such circumstances.

In China's judicial system, a death sentence passed in an intermediate court is automatically subject to review by a higher court and the supreme court.

However, appeals courts in practice rarely overturn such high-profile convictions.

Zheng appeared on state television flanked by two guards as the verdict was read out.

China executes more people a year than the rest of the world put together, although the death sentence is rarely handed out to such a high-ranking official. The last time an official of Zheng's rank was executed was the deputy governor of Anhui province in 2003.

In recent months, tainted Chinese pet food ingredients have been blamed for the deaths of cats and dogs in North America, and toothpaste from China mixed with an industrial chemical has been found on shelves in Central America and the Caribbean.

The same chemical, diethylene glycol, was cited in the deaths since October of at least 51 people in Panama.

The SFDA will play a role by blacklisting food producers who break safety rules.

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