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China: Around The Nation

Chinese pair arrested after police raid US$1.5 million diet pill ‘factory’

Suspects used drug banned in China to produce slimming tablets, which they claimed were imported, police say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 4:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 4:38pm

Two men from eastern China have been arrested on suspicion of manufacturing and selling diet pills using a banned ingredient, mainland media reported.

The case involved goods worth more than 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million), which the suspects sold on alibaba.com, state-owned China National radio said on its website on Monday.

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The e-commerce giant’s anti-counterfeiting department alerted police to the matter after becoming suspicious. Police then purchased some of the pills – marketed under the brand name Shuliqing – and found them to contain 50mg of sibutramine, an appetite suppressant that is banned in China.

A press conference, which was streamed online, was held on Sunday to announce the arrest of the two suspects. A video showing a police raid on the pair’s alleged production facility – a simple concrete workshop in a Feng county, Jiangsu province – was also shown, the report said.

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According to the police, one of the suspects, surnamed Liu, admitted to buying the sibutramine, while his associate, surnamed Qian, was in charge of manufacturing the illicit pills.

Each bottle of pills cost 20 yuan to make and was sold for 130 yuan online, the report said.

The pair also produced fake labels for the bottles saying they were “Imported from Germany” or “Imported from Taiwan”.

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Sibutramine, which has been associated with an increased risk of strokes and heart disease, has been banned in China since 2010.

According to the police, after being told by a customer that their slimming aids didn’t work, the suspects doubled the amount of sibutramine in each tablet, the report said, without giving specific numbers.