Sunday, May 06, 2007

Poison from China

Today's NYT has a huge story on how counterfeiters in China produce poison that ends up in medicine and is killing thousands, especially children.

From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine

The kidneys fail first. Then the central nervous system begins to misfire. Paralysis spreads, making breathing difficult, then often impossible without assistance. In the end, most victims die.
Many of them are children, poisoned at the hands of their unsuspecting parents.

The syrupy poison, diethylene glycol, is an indispensable part of the modern world, an industrial solvent and prime ingredient in some antifreeze.

It is also a killer. And the deaths, if not intentional, are often no accident.

Over the years, the poison has been loaded into all varieties of medicine — cough syrup, fever medication, injectable drugs — a result of counterfeiters who profit by substituting the sweet-tasting solvent for a safe, more expensive syrup, usually glycerin, commonly used in drugs, food, toothpaste and other products.

This makes me sick. Instead of executing people on demand to harvest their organs for transplants, Chinese authorities should concentrate more on clamping down on criminal counterfeiters. It's time to rethink the love affair with supercheap products from China made under horrendous working conditions and the exploitation of labor.

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