6 Die After Receiving Human Antibody Injections in China

Six people have died after being injected with a human antibody in eastern China, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday, the latest case of deaths caused by suspect medicine.

The six died after being injected with immune globulin, and the company that sold the drugs was ordered to stop selling them, said a spokeswoman at the No. 2 Hospital at Nanchang University in Jiangxi province.

The spokeswoman, who would give only her last name Yu, did not provide any other details. It was not immediately clear if the drugs in question were also used for treating patients outside of China.

Immune globulin is an antibody extracted from blood plasma that can be injected into muscles to protect against hepatitis A, and Rhesus disease in pregnant women. It is rarely used to protect against hepatitis A in developed countries where a childhood vaccination is normally given.

A spokeswoman for China's State Food and Drug Administration, Yan Jiangying, confirmed the six had died.

A notice on the administration's Web site said an initial inspection of samples of the antibody confirmed there were some abnormalities.

A notice on the Web site of the Jiangxi Food and Drug Administration said the people died between May 22 and May 28.

The drugs were produced by Jiangxi Boya Bio-Pharmaceutical Co., and had the same batch number, the notice said.

The State Food and Drug Administration and the Health Ministry ordered the company to suspend sales last week and recall the batch of immune globulin, the administration said on its Web site.

China's pharmaceutical industry is highly lucrative but spottily regulated, enticing some to try to cash in by substituting fake or substandard ingredients.

In April, five officials from a Chinese pharmaceutical company that sold a tainted antibiotic responsible for more than a dozen deaths were sentenced up to seven years in prison.