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Chinese Heart Drug Valsartan Recall Shows FDA Inspection Limits

Jan. 30, 2019, 12:42 PM

U.S. regulators sent a stark warning to American consumers last year: A Chinese-made heart drug taken by millions of people was contaminated with a possible cancer-causing chemical.

Illustration: Joseph P. Kelly

The Food and Drug Administration oversaw a recall of the tainted pills. But even as it did so, the agency that helps safeguard a global supply chain of drugs was conducting fewer inspections of pharmaceutical plants in the country where the problem originated.

Treatments made by Chinese companies now account for almost one of every 10 generic drugs cleared by the FDA for sale. But agency inspections meant to ensure that approved ...