May 29, 2015 / 6:38 AM / 4 years ago

China investigates second healthcare official in a week

SHANGHAI, May 29 (Reuters) - China has launched an investigation into a top official who oversees the country’s medical devices sector, a disciplinary watchdog said on Friday, the second healthcare official to be probed this week.

A series of healthcare probes, part of President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption, has thrown an unwelcome spotlight on executives, doctors and officials. Sources this month said the probes had started to spread to the medical devices sector, which includes things like hospital scanners and medical implants.

Authorities are investigating Tong Min, the head of the medical devices supervision unit at China’s food and drug regulator for “serious disciplinary violations”, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDA) said in a statement, using a term which usually refers to corruption.

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) declined to immediately comment when contacted by phone. Reuters could not reach Tong for comment.

China’s fast-growing healthcare market, the second largest in the world, has been in the spotlight over the last two years with a far-reaching corruption investigation into the drug sector leading to a near $500 million fine against British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC last year.

Tong’s unit is responsible for regulating medical device manufacturing and distribution. He joined the CFDA in 2004 and took his current position in 2013, according to the statement.

China launched a probe on Tuesday into the former head of a healthcare ministry unit responsible for drug trials and leading implementation of healthcare policy for bribery.

The country is a magnet for drugmakers, medical device firms and hospital operators, with spending on medicines alone set to hit as much as $185 billion by 2018, according to IMS Health. The country’s overall healthcare bill is expected to rise to $1 trillion by 2020, according to McKinsey & Co. (Reporting by SHANGHAI newsroom; Writing by Adam Jourdan)

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