Ex-drug administration boss commits suicide after graft probe

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2007, 12:00am

Former State Food and Drug Administration chief Zheng Xiaoyu has committed suicide, according to a Shanghai-based magazine. He was sacked in June 2005 and investigated for taking bribes,

Rumours have been circulating in the drug administration network that Zheng killed himself out of fear of punishment. An administration official did not directly deny the claim when asked for confirmation, a report in the latest issue of Xinmin Weekly said.

'Zheng Xiaoyu is the one who best knows how many bad deeds he has done,' the unnamed official was quoted as saying in response to the inquiry.

Shen Chen , news office director of the administration's Department of Policies and Regulations, declined to verify the report, saying that only the Central Disciplinary Committee was in a position to comment.

News of the apparent suicide came just one week after Premier Wen Jiabao denounced the former top drug regulator during a meeting in which the Ministry of Supervision reported on Zheng's case.

Until his sacking, Zheng, 57, had served as the administration's chief since it was established in 1998.

The administration has been hit by criticism over a series of medical scandals. Just last month, the Ministry of Health banned an intravenous blood-based product tainted with hepatitis C after it was sold to 12 provinces.

All drug manufacturing approvals issued during Zheng's term, which amounted to 168,740 by August last year, would need approval and registration again this year, the report said.

Also yesterday, Kangliyuan Group, a drug company based in Hangzhou , was ordered to stop operations and its general manager was being investigated because of links to Zheng, the China Business News reported.

In April 1995, Beijing's then vice-mayor, Wang Baosen , committed suicide in connection with the cover-up of a massive property scandal. And in May 2000, Li Fuxiang, deputy head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, jumped to his death while being under investigation.