Tianjin launches campaign to streamline health industry amid Quanjian scandal

A man walks outside a branch of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) firm Quanjian Group, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China December 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters

Eighteen workers for Tianjin-based health industry giant Quanjian Nature Medicine Technology Development Co. Ltd. were arrested over alleged "illegal pyramid-scheme selling" and misleading advertising, local media Tianjin Daily reported on Monday.

Shu Yuhui, 51, the actual controller of the company, is among the suspects, according to the newspaper.

Quanjian came under fire after China's leading online health information service Dingxiangyisheng, which means Doctor Lilac, published an online article to link the death of a four-year-old girl, surnamed Zhou, with cancer to the company's so-called "anti-cancer drugs".

"After halting chemotherapy and turning to Quanjian's medical services for over two months, Zhou's condition deteriorated and died in 2015," wrote the article.

"What shocked Zhou's father was that Quanjian posted promotional videos just at this time, claiming that Zhou had already been cured thanks to the company's therapy."

Starting out with "fire therapy" in 2004, Quanjian has achieved outstanding business success after making inroads into health-care products, herbal drugs and nutritional drinks with a revenue exceeding 1 billion yuan (US$145 billion) in 2017.

Crackdown on fake healthcare products

The incident has sparked a public outcry, prompting Tianjin authorities to take immediate action.

At the start of this year, the Tianjin government announced that it would launch a three-month campaign to streamline local health industry.

"We will target fake health care products for the elderly, misleading advertising, and illegal marketing to guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of consumers," the Tianjin government said in a statement.

So far, at least 10 companies came under investigation for unlawful operation, six closed for fraud, and 639 products barred from sale for disqualification, according to the news website the Paper.

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