The NY Times is reporting today that the FDA has been trying to track tainted drugs from China for over a decade. Let me say that again -- for over a decade:
After a drug ingredient from China killed dozens of Haitian children a decade ago, a senior American health official sent a cable to her investigators: find out who made the poisonous ingredient and why a state-owned company in China exported it as safe, pharmaceutical-grade glycerin.
In a case echoed by recent poisonings, at least 88 Haitian children were killed in 1996 by medicine made with a toxic syrup sent from China.
"In a case echoed by recent poisonings"... That's right, the same story as the toothpaste/anti-freeze warning that came out on June 1st.
By the time an F.D.A. agent visited the suspected manufacturer, the plant was shut down and Chinese companies said they bore no responsibility for the mass poisoning.
Ten years later it happened again, this time in Panama. Chinese-made diethylene glycol, masquerading as its more expensive chemical cousin glycerin, was mixed into medicine, killing at least 100 people there last year. And recently, Chinese toothpaste containing diethylene glycol was found in the United States and seven other countries, prompting tens of thousands of tubes to be recalled.
From the FDA:
FDA Advises Consumers to Avoid Toothpaste From China Containing Harmful Chemical
FDA Detains One Contaminated Shipment, Issues Import Alert
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today warned consumers to avoid using tubes of toothpaste labeled as made in China, and issued an import alert to prevent toothpaste containing the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol (DEG) from entering the United States.
DEG is used in antifreeze and as a solvent.
Consumers should examine toothpaste products for labeling that says the product is made in China. Out of an abundance of caution, FDA suggests that consumers throw away toothpaste with that labeling. FDA is concerned that these products may contain "diethylene glycol," also known as "diglycol."
In both cases (a decade apart), Chinese companies, not certified to produce pharmaceuticals, shipped the diglycol -- oh, heck, let's just call it anti-freeze -- to European manufacturers that did not check back to see where it had come from or test to see if it contained glycerin.
In the case of the 1997 Haiti poisonings, the NYT says that "Virtually every young poisoning victim who showed up at the main hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, died."
The route the anti-freeze took in Europe? German broker, Chemical Trading and Consulting, who could not "trace glycerine lots to their manufacturer." From there, 72 barrels were sold by a Dutch company, Vos B.V. to Haiti. When the FDA inspected Vos B.V., they found 66 more barrels of diglycol labeled as glycerin.
So, this has been going on for years. There are Chinese companies that are selling poison as medicine (or Melamine as Gluten...) in order to raise their profits, since glycerin will get you more bang for the buck than anti-freeze any day of the week. And, according to the NYT article, the Chinese government then obstructs the investigation into same said companies...
If there's anyone left who doesn't think our food and medicine supply is not at risk, I just don't know what to say to you anymore.
For everyone else: Buy locally, walking distance, if you can find it.
Here's a link to the NYT article.
Here's the FDA Press Release.
And here's link to Farmer's Markets by U.S. State.
Courtesy of DrWolfy: Farmer's Markets in Canada.
And here's a link to Farmer's Markets in Great Britain.