Drug safety watchdog to clean up its image

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 February, 2007, 12:00am

High-profile medical scandals spur massive re-education campaign

China's drug safety watchdog has launched a massive re-education campaign to improve its image after a series of high-profile medical scandals.

State Food and Drug Administration director Shao Mingli said the month-long campaign would focus on enhancing party cadres' ideological consciousness, especially in terms of fighting corruption, and building 'clean party spirits', China Central Television reported yesterday.

The rectification campaign will see all the administration's party cadres submit self-criticisms on the need to adhere to party ideology, including its opposition to corruption, and also see the creation of an enhanced accountability system within the administration.

Mr Shao said the body would spend one year implementing the reform in order to rebuild its reputation, CCTV reported.

All senior officials were ordered to prepare self criticisms before the end of last month, when the administration held a series of collective re-education meetings, the Nanfang Weekend has reported.

During one of the meetings Mr Shao urged officials from all medical departments across the country to learn from the lesson of former director Zheng Xiaoyu, a statement posted on the administration's website said yesterday.

Zheng, who was sacked in June 2005 and investigated for taking bribes, is rumoured to have killed himself. His case led to serious condemnation from the State Council at a meeting last week, with Premier Wen Jiabao ordering a thorough investigation of the drug watchdog.

China Business News said Zheng's son, Zheng Hairong , and wife Liu Naixue, who ran a drug and medical equipment importing businesses, had been put under investigation because of suspected collusion with Zheng to sell drug manufacturing permits to medical firms.

All drug manufacturing approvals issued during Zheng's term - 168,740 by August last year - would need approval and registration again this year, an earlier report said. Wu Zhen , the deputy director of the administration, has said the body had withdrawn drug manufacturing permits from 86 enterprises last year, and shut 30 factories for reorganisation.

Zheng's dereliction of duty in allowing countless unqualified medical products to be marketed without proper examination has harmed the health of millions of mainlanders. Last month, the Ministry of Health banned an intravenous blood-based product tainted with hepatitis C after it was sold to 12 provinces.

Zheng's reported suicide is not the first case of senior cadres taking their own lives after being linked to corruption. 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 , a deputy head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, jumped to his death while under investigation.