BEIJING (AP) -- China's drug safety watchdog said Thursday it has stopped all production at a company in northeastern China after an herbal injection it sold was suspected of causing the deaths of three people.
The State Food and Drug Administration said Wandashan Pharmaceutical Co. in Heilongjiang province made the herbal injection suspected of causing the deaths last month. The company had already voluntarily recalled all of its injectable products.
"This is a serious incident caused by drug contamination," spokeswoman Yan Jiangying told a news conference, according to a transcript posted on the administration's Web site.
The move comes as China is trying to reassure consumers over a scandal involving the spread of the industrial chemical melamine into the food chain, the latest to mar its already troubled product safety record.
Yan said the herbal injection, called ciwujia, was soaked by rain while in storage and contaminated by bacteria.
She said the contaminated products were then sold after being put in new packaging.
"The company's action seriously violated the drug management law and it should be punished for producing the drug," Yan said.
China's pharmaceutical industry is highly lucrative but poorly regulated, resulting in some companies using fake or substandard ingredients. In recent years, a string of fatalities blamed on counterfeit or shoddily made medications has been reported.
Last month, the official Xinhua News Agency said health authorities ordered hospitals to stop using another herbal drug suspected of causing the death of a newborn and triggering "adverse effects" in three others.