Even if 4 out of 5 Chinese doctors recommend something, you still might want to exercise a bit of caution.
Because it turns that 80% of the data in Chinese clinical trials is fabricated. That’s according to a year-long review of 1,622 clinical trials in China by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), which found that the vast majority of the data in the surveyed trials was incomplete, untraceable or just plain absent.
In its survey released last month, the state regulator blamed essentially everyone involved for the systemic scale of fraud, from officials who are supposed to oversee the trials, to the pharmaceutical companies behind them, right down to intermediaries and medical workers, according to the Economic Information Daily. Nefarious Chinese drug companies are also accused of deliberately hiding, deleting or tampering with unfavorable data after testing. Still, the SFDA needs to do some more research before making direct accusations.
While 80% might seem like a lot when it comes to something as important as medical testing, industry insiders were not surprised by the high number. In China’s drug industry, standards may be high, but quality is not. “Clinical data fabrication was an open secret even before the inspection,” one hospital chief told Radio Free Asia.
According to the Economic Information Daily report, outcomes of clinical trials are often written beforehand, about drugs that are simply combinations of already existing ones, with the help of third-party research organizations, who are well-paid for their services.
Here’s what one healthcare professional, Luo Liang, told RFA:
The domestic market for Western pharmaceuticals in China is either confined to very straightforward generic products that have been around for a long time … or revolves around joint-venture pharmaceutical manufacture with foreign companies.
Either that, or Chinese pharmaceutical factories get hold of the formula for certain drugs whose patents have expired. There are no new drugs in development in the same way that there are overseas.
Of course, the revelation that these kind of practices have become common likely won’t do much to comfort the Chinese consumer. China has had to deal with a number of food and drug scandals in recent years that has parents buying milk powder abroad for their kids and taking them across the border to get their vaccinations. While Shanghai’s own food and drug safety administration has recently cracked down on Michelin star winners and pancakes gods, it doesn’t appear as though enough is being done.
More importantly, what does this mean for the jar of owl wine we bought?