China has banned the production, sale and use of clenbuterol tablets, a medicine used to treat bronchial asthma that has also been illegally used by farmers to make their pigs leaner.
The decision was made after an overall consideration of the risks of drug abuse and the drug's clinical value and safety risks, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said.
Existing clenbuterol tablets will be destroyed under the supervision of local food and drug authorities.
Compound clenbuterol, as well as aerosol and powdered forms of the drug, do not fall under the ban, as they are considered safe to use as prescription drugs under a doctor's guidance, according to the SFDA.
The ban will not affect bronchial asthma patients who are currently receiving the tablet form of the drug, as they can replace the drug with other medicines such as salbutamol and terbutaline, the SFDA said.
A total of 989 people involved in the manufacture and sale of clenbuterol were arrested as of the end of August, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
The SFDA said that all clenbuterol supplies involved in the food safety violations were produced by underground drug factories and did not come from licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers.
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