Drug regulators in China has withdrawn the product licence of one of the country’s firms which was found to be selling contaminated treatments for leukaemia.

The State Food and Drug Administration has revoked the licence of Shanghai Hualian Pharmaceutical Co and confiscated the money made from the problem drugs, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency. Spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said at a press conference that the SFDA's Shanghai branch will issue the highest possible fine on the firm, though no specific figure was disclosed.

According to Yan, the SFDA and the Ministry of Health set up a group to investigate the case but “leaders of the Shanghai Hualian Pharmaceutical Co intentionally held back the facts of production violations during the investigation". She added that “relevant responsible people of the company” were detained by police and the agency suspended production, sale and usage of methotrexate and cytarabine.

The SFDA made the decision after the National Centre for Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring reported that the two drugs had caused adverse reactions, including difficulty in walking and urine retention, in some leukaemia patients in Shanghai, Guangxi, Beijing, Anhui, Hebei, Henan and other regions. The case came under the media spotlight in July as several children suffering from leukaemia in three hospitals in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Shanghai developed pains in their legs after being injected with contaminated methotrexate.

The Shanghai municipal government has said that "most" of the suspect drugs had been recalled and the relevant agencies had traced the whereabouts of the rest. Yan did not disclose how many people were affected by the contaminated drugs, though reports have put the number of victims at "several hundreds”.

Shanghai Hualian is now working on a compensation programme, Yan concluded.