More unlicensed products found as drug firm apologises

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2010, 12:00am

The Department of Health has found another two products made by Neochem Pharmaceutical Laboratories, in July and August, when it did not have a valid licence.

It issued an order to recall the affected batches yesterday, the second it made after it instructed Neochem to recall from the market 42 batches of 37 registered products for the same reason on Friday. The drugs ordered to be recalled include painkillers, cold medicine and antibiotics.

The latest affected products are Chlordiazepoxide 2.5mg capsules and Chlordiazepoxide 10mg capsules, used for short-term treatment of anxiety. The department said both were dangerous drugs and only supplied to private doctors. It said Neochem would recall the two batches from the doctors directly, and urged users to stop using them immediately. Neochem has set up a hotline - 3427 3525 - to take inquiries.

The drug maker yesterday apologised for continuing to produce antibiotics and other pills after the firm's licence was suspended by the health department because some of its products were found to have insufficient active ingredients.

'We express our sincere sorrow for the anxiety and inconvenience caused to the Department of Health, medical personnel and the public,' a statement from the company said.

The manufacturer pledged to implement a series of remedial measures, including carrying out a comprehensive review of internal management style and strengthening quality-control mechanisms.

'We will appoint independent consultants to conduct a review on management culture to strengthen future corporate governance and eradicate, completely, past management culture. We will also employ foreign professional pharmaceutical consultants to assess our drug-making processes and risk-management systems and give us suggestions on how to strengthen our quality control.'

A Department of Health spokesman said it would continue its investigation of the manufacturer. 'We are consulting the Department of Justice on whether to launch charges against the company.'

Between March and July, Neochem recalled, on four occasions, five products from the local market because all were found to have insufficient active ingredients.

A government pharmaceutical committee suspended Neochem's manufacturing licence in April. It was fully restored last month after Neochem satisfied the committee that it was in compliance with good manufacturing practices.

Back in the bottle

The number of batches of drugs Neochem has been ordered to recall: 44