China’s attempts to tackle corruption in its healthcare industry have stepped up a gear with the news that another high-profile official is on trial for alleged bribery, a month after the ex-head of the country’s regulator was sentenced to death.

Cao Wenzhuang, 45, was pharmaceutical registration department director at the China’s State Food and Drug Administration, from 2002 to 2006 and secretary to Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the agency who was convicted of taking bribes and dereliction of duty by the Beijing Municipal No 1 Intermediate People's Court and sentenced to death. That same court has charged Cao with accepting 2.34 million yuan (over $307,000) in bribes from two drugmakers based in Jilin and Guangdong provinces, which wanted approval to sell their products.

Cao, who has also been charged with neglecting his duty to properly certify treatments, has denied the charges, according to the Beijing Evening News and reported by Associated Press. The newspaper quoted people connected with the case as saying that the indictment described the allegations against Cao as "extremely serious”.

Meantime his ex-boss Zheng has appealed his death sentence, saying that the verdict is too harsh given that he has co-operated in full with investigators and confessed his crimes. He was convicted of taking cash and gifts worth 6.49 million yuan, or around $832,000, and during his tenure at SFDA chief, from 1998 to 2005, the agency approved six drugs that turned out to be fake. One antibiotic that was given the green light caused the deaths of up to 10 people.