U.S. Investigated China in Toxic-drug Deaths 10 Years Ago – Walt Bogdanich

A repeat of mass poisoning caused by tainted glycerin imported from China alerts nations of a need for better accountability in a global economy. From The Houston Chronicle:

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.

The Chinese were of little help. Requests to find the manufacturer were ignored. Business records were withheld or destroyed.

“The U.S. imports a lot of Chinese glycerin and it is used in ingested products such as toothpaste,” Mary Pendergast, then deputy commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, wrote on Oct. 27, 1997. Learning how diethylene glycol, a syrupy poison used in some antifreeze, ended up in Haitian fever medicine might “prevent this tragedy from happening again,” she wrote. [Full Text]

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