In January, Honor International Pharmtech was accused of shipping counterfeit drugs into the United States. Even so, the Chinese chemical company — whose motto is “Thinking Much of Honor” — was openly marketing its products in October to thousands of buyers at the world’s biggest trade show for pharmaceutical ingredients.
Other Chinese chemical companies made the journey to the annual show as well, including one manufacturer recently accused by American authorities of supplying steroids to illegal underground labs and another whose representative was arrested at the 2006 trade show for patent violations.
Also attending were two exporters owned by China’s government that had sold poison mislabeled as a drug ingredient, which killed nearly 200 people and injured countless others in Haiti and in Panama.
Yet another chemical company, Orient Pacific International, reserved an exhibition booth in Milan, but its owner, Kevin Xu, could not attend. He was in a Houston jail on charges of selling counterfeit medicine for schizophrenia, prostate cancer, blood clots and Alzheimer’s disease, among other maladies.
These companies point to a deeper problem: Pharmaceutical ingredients exported from China are often made by chemical companies that are neither certified nor inspected by Chinese drug regulators.
Because the chemical companies are not required to meet even minimal drug-manufacturing standards, there is little to stop them from exporting unapproved, adulterated or counterfeit ingredients. The substandard formulations made from those ingredients often end up in pharmacies in developing countries and for sale on the Internet, where more Americans are turning for cheap medicine.