Worrying news about the lack of oversight in the world’s biggest producer of pretty much everything –

China announced in May that 254 pharmaceutical suppliers, or 12.7 percent of the total, were producing tainted capsules. At least 10 are listed or linked to China-listed firms, according to the official Chinese media. Of 11,561 batches of drugs tested, 5.8 percent contained excessive levels of chromium.

Instead of using gelatine derived from animal parts, they used cheap industrial gelatine from leather scraps treated with chromium that tans and softens animal hide.

The problem is pervasive because of the pressure to produce low-cost drugs and still make a profit, and the popularity of traditional Chinese medicine, which is often made into powders and packed into capsules.

Authorities swooped in on 236 capsule makers, ordered 42 of them to stop production, closed 84 production lines, revoked the licences of seven companies and referred 13 to the police.

As China revamps its healthcare system to make it more affordable to its 1.3 billion population, bureaucrats have gone all out to lower drug prices in large drug tenders that give winners a captive market spanning several provinces.

Toxic capsules have also been uncovered in Hong Kong, where drugmakers source 90 percent of their capsules from China.

“The current tendering system of the essential drug list has three major problems: first, essential drug tendering in provinces has become a political competition to depress prices among local governments, which results in constant decreases in prices of some essential drugs,” the Chinese Pharmaceutical Industry Association said in a report.

“The unreasonably low winning prices directly challenge the safely bottom lines of the essential drugs, put Chinese people’s health in severe jeopardy and affect normal production and supply of these essential drugs.”

Analysts say the cutting of corners won’t go away overnight.

Click Toxic Capsules: China Drug Industry Tainted By Unsafe Chemicals to read the full article.