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Report: Antifreeze in medicine traced to Chinese company

September 29, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Chinese officials have reportedly refused to identify the manufacturer of an antifreeze ingredient that tainted Haitian anti-fever medicine last year, killing at least 80 children.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said imported glycerin used to make Haitian brands of the syrup had been tainted with diethylene glycol, a toxic substance used in industrial solvents and antifreeze.

At the time, CDC officials said they did not know where the tainted glycerin came from. But ``60 Minutes″ reported Sunday that it was traced through European companies to a state-owned company in China, SinoChem International Chemicals Co.

The CBS program said SinoChem got the glycerin from another Chinese manufacturer, then sold it abroad, certifying it as 98 percent pure.

According to the report, SinoChem and Chinese authorities have refused for the past 13 months to tell the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who manufactured the glycerin.

Diethylene glycol can cause kidney failure, hepatitis, pancreatitis and severe neurological problems.

The CDC said the Haiti deaths amounted to the fourth-largest known outbreak of diethylene glycol poisoning. According to ``60 Minutes,″ diethylene glycol in previous poisonings was found to have been substituted for glycerin in medicine because it cost about half as much.

The CBS program said SinoChem and its New York-based American affiliate, SinoChem USA, the Chinese Embassy in Washington and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade declined requests for interviews.

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