FDA accuses Chinese companies of lying about role in heparin scandal

The Food and Drug Administrating (FDA) is accusing two Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturing companies of lying to federal regulators about their role in shipping batches of contaminated heparin into the United States between 2007 and 2008, according to Easy Bourse.

Letters sent by the FDA to Qingdao Jiulong Biopharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. and Shanghai No. 1 Biochemical & Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., says that during inspection of the plants in 2008, the agency “uncovered untrue statements and information by your firm to the agency.”

In late 2007 the FDA began receiving reports of patients experiencing severe reactions after receiving injections of the blood thinner heparin. An investigation found that batches of heparin manufactured in China had been contaminated with oversulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS), a material that is difficult to immediately identify as it mimics heparin. The tainted blood thinner killed more than 80 Americans and sickened hundreds more before batches of the medication were recalled.

In the letters to the Chinese drug suppliers, the FDA said that although some shipments of heparin were quarantined, the drug companies did allow 19 lots to be shipped to the U.S. The agency warned that it can refuse to grant new drug applications or allow shipments to unload.

The FDA, which later admitted it did not have sufficient resources to fully inspect foreign food and drug manufacturers, has come under fire for its handling of the contaminated heparin scandal. As a result, the FDA has stepped up its efforts by opening inspection offices in foreign countries to oversee the quality of goods imported into the U.S. The first offices were placed in China with plans to have four permanent inspectors in China by mid summer.