Supplements in China Found to Contain Vet Drugs

October 14, 2011 9:32 am Last Updated: October 1, 2015 3:23 pm
A pedestrian walks past a drug store in Beijing on July 9, 2007. (The Eng Koon/AFP/Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks past a drug store in Beijing on July 9, 2007. (The Eng Koon/AFP/Getty Images)

A drug producer in China was found to be using veterinary medicines in its products for years, before they were pulled off the shelves after a raid recently.

More than 30 million yuan (US$4.7 million) worth of fake supplements were found during a raid in China’s Shanxi Province. It was discovered that the producer had used veterinary drugs in an expensive supplement called “Hong Kong Instant Asthma Relief.” The supplement was supposed to contain such Chinese medicine ingredients as Ginseng and Lingzhi mushroom.

The Beijing Morning Post reported on Oct. 3 that a Mr. Liu from Beijing bought 12 boxes of “Hong Kong Instant Asthma Relief” to treat a long-standing asthma condition.

However, after taking the medicine he started feeling nauseas, and then vomited repeatedly. His calls to the drug company went unanswered.

A reporter for the Beijing Morning Post found that the manufacturing location listed on the supplement was fake, and that the Shanxi Tianlong Biotechnology Co., Ltd. indicated on the label doesn’t produce a medicine with this name.

A subsequent investigation found that the fake supplement was made in an abandoned building in a small village in Xi’an city, in the northwestern province of Shanxi. This facility produced eight different fake supplements including “Hong Kong Instant Asthma Relief,” “Deep-sea Combined Revival Capsule,” and “Add Strength.”

The fake drug producer admitted to the Post that the main ingredients in the supplements are starch and maltodextrin (a food additive) with veterinarian drugs mixed in.

Around 96,000 packages of fake supplements were found, worth a total of more than 30 million yuan.

According to a Guangming Daily report on Oct. 3, during the first half of the year, “Hong Kong Instant Asthma Relief” was sold in 18 drug stores in southeast Chinese cities such as Quanzhou, Xiamen, and Zhangzhou. (

A drug store clerk told the Guangming Daily that the supplement had been on the shelf for more than a year, and was very popular.

However, the product suddenly disappeared from the shelves this year. The clerk said that the store was unaware that the drug was fake.

No one answered the phone when New Tang Dynasty TV (NTD) called Shanxi Tianlong Biotechnology Co., Ltd. on Oct. 4.

Local police were also unresponsive and uninformed.

Meanwhile, product images had already been deleted from the Shanxi Tianlong Biotechnology Co., Ltd website.

Experts warned that veterinary drugs are designed to fit the physiological and metabolic conditions of animals—human consumption might result in poisoning, and could even cause life-threatening reactions.

A number of cases of counterfeit supplements have been reported in China in recent years. Hangzhou and Nanjing have encountered such problems before.

The Chinese Ministry of Health published 51 counterfeit drugs and supplements in January. Among them, 19 different supplements for adjusting blood sugar level were found to contain chemicals not allowing using in supplements, such as sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

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