China antibiotic maker loses license

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BEIJING - China's national drug regulator has revoked the license of the maker of an antibiotic blamed for at least six deaths and dozens of illnesses, the official news agency said Monday.

Leaders of the Anhui Huayuan Worldbest Biology Pharmacy Co. have also been dismissed, Xinhua News Agency reported. It did not say if the managers would be prosecuted.

The government ordered a recall of the drug in July after a 6-year-old girl died. At least five more deaths — including that of a 74-year-old retired teacher — were later blamed on clindamycin phosphate glucose manufactured by the company.

No company officials were available for comment, an operator at the company, who refused to give her name, said Monday.

China's Food and Drug Administration said in August the deaths were caused by "improper manufacturing" that caused the maker to fail to properly sterilize the drug. Investigators found excessive bacteria on samples they took, state media has reported.

China's pharmaceutical industry is lucrative but poorly regulated. Some companies try to cash in by substituting fake or substandard ingredients.

Eleven people died this year after taking a drug made by the Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. An investigation showed the drug contained a chemical that can cause kidney failure, which a vendor had passed off as a normal ingredient.

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