China probes drugmakers over production methods

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Three Chinese drugmakers are under investigation for crimes including using counterfeit medicines, the industry watchdog said, as China cracks down on shoddy practices in the world’s second-biggest drugs market.

The China Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating Hebei Yongfeng Yaoye, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed CSPC Pharmaceutical Group, as well as Gansu Dadeli Pharmaceutical and Guizhou Shouxian Pharmaceutical.

The firms were suspected of using illegal production methods and had been ordered to recall their products, the watchdog said in a statement on Monday.

China is pushing an ambitious program of healthcare reforms to improve its home-made medicines, and has vowed to crack down on poor quality drugs.

The problem was highlighted by a recent scandal over almost $90 million worth of illegal vaccines that were suspected of being sold in dozens of provinces around the country.

A woman who answered the phone at Hebei Yongfeng Yaoye declined to comment on the investigation. Calls to Guizhou Shouxian Pharmaceutical and Gansu Dadeli Pharmaceutical went unanswered.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates