FDA regulators set to start in China pending final approval

WASHINGTON Food and Drug Administration plans to open an office in China—as part of a change in strategy following product safety problems in Chinese imports that prompted several health scares and have been linked to some deaths—are proceeding on schedule. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said this week that only final approval from Beijing is needed before regulators start work there next month.

"In the past, the United States and many other countries have employed a strategy of standing at the border trying to catch things that aren't safe," Leavitt said in an Associated Press interview during a visit to Singapore.

U.S. regulators have recently recalled a number of contaminated products made in China: toothpaste, pet food, the blood thinner heparin and others. Heparin, a commonly used blood thinner, has been linked to 62 deaths and hundreds of allergic reactions in the U.S. and Germany.

Christopher Hickey, current director of the Asia and the Pacific office at HHS will head up the China office, Leavitt said.

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