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Police detain 22 over toxic medicine scandal in China

SHANGHAI -- Chinese police have detained 22 people for making drug capsules using a toxic raw material produced from scrap leather, state media said, in the latest in a string of product safety scandals.

Police in the eastern province of Zhejiang found the suspects allegedly made and sold capsules with excessive levels of chromium after using industrial gelatin made from discarded leather, the Xinhua News Agency said late Monday.

Chromium, which has several industrial uses including leather tanning, can cause cancer.

China has been hit by a series of product safety scandals, often involving food or pharmaceuticals, despite government pledges to improve supervision, and public outrage over lax controls and official corruption is on the increase.

According to Xinhua, at least half of the people detained worked for capsule makers in Zhejiang's Xinchang county, a major production base.

Police and government departments of Zhejiang and Xinchang county were not immediately available for comment.

According to the report, the industrial gelatin used to make the capsules came from other factories in the northern province of Hebei and the eastern province of Jiangxi.

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