China said to be probing ex-official who oversaw clinical drug trials

BEIJING - A former Chinese health official, who for at least a decade oversaw clinical drug trials and implemented hospital policies, is being investigated for corruption, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Wang Yu, the former director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission's bureau of medical administration, is being probed for suspected violations of Communist Party discipline, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the probe isn't public.

Before retiring last year, Wang was responsible for supervising trials of drugs and medical devices, as well as drafting policies for medical institutions.

The health industry is facing greater scrutiny in China, with the government in September fining British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline 3 billion yuan (S$640 million) for paying bribes to win customers in the world's most populous country.

Authorities also started a preliminary probe last year into the business practices of foreign medical-equipment makers, people familiar with the matter said this week.

The investigation into Wang comes more than two years into a national campaign against corruption by President Xi Jinping that has more than 100,000 party officials.

Neither the health ministry nor the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's anti-graft agency, responded to faxed requests for comment on Wednesday.

Efforts to reach Wang through the health ministry were unsuccessful. His whereabouts were unknown, but suspects of party disciplinary violations are usually taken into custody early in an investigation.