China / Society

Another kindergarten principal suspended in anti-viral drug case

By Xue Chaohua in Lanzhou and Xu Wei in Beijing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-27 08:49

Another kindergarten principal suspended in anti-viral drug case
Nurses draw blood for a test on Wednesday from a child enrolled at Litian Kindergarten in Lanzhou, Gansu province. The school is under investigation after the head of the school admitted that students were given prescribed anti-viral drugs.[Ding Kai/ For China Daily]

Authorities in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, have suspended a kindergarten principal suspected of giving children prescription drugs without a doctor's authorization. It is the latest case of drugs being given to students without parents' knowledge to ward off illnesses and boost attendance.

Nie Aiqin, principal of Litian Kindergarten, in Qilihe district, is under suspicion of giving ribavirin, an anti-viral drug used to treat respiratory diseases and hepatitis C, to more than 200 children without informing their parents.

Nie allegedly started giving them the medicine in November after some parents said they suspected their children had become infected with hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Nie purchased 50 boxes of the medicine, each containing 18 bags, and gave each child six doses of the drug, according to the district government.

The case follows a series of incidents this month in which at least six kindergartens in three provinces were found to have given children anti-viral drugs without informing their parents.

In response, the Ministry of Education and the National Health and Family Planning Commission launched a nationwide inspection of kindergartens, primary schools and high schools in order to see whether students have been given unauthorized medical treatment or unsafe food.

On Wednesday, the Qilihe district's education authority started taking all the children in the kindergarten to a hospital for physical checks, and the district's food and drug administration has confiscated the remaining doses of ribavirin for testing and investigation.

The news had enraged some parents, who protested outside the kindergarten on Tuesday night and demanded an explanation. The protest blocked a road in the district for more than 10 minutes.

Wei Lihong, deputy chief of Qilihe district, promised the crowd of parents that the authority will thoroughly investigate the case, including the source of the medicine, how many children were given the drug and how it would affect their health.

Some of the kindergartners' parents said their children had previously complained of frequent stomachaches.

"I took my son to the hospital, and the doctor asked me if my family had a history of heart attacks. He told me the boy was having arrhythmia," said the mother of a 3-year-old student of the school, who only identified herself as Wang.

"I didn't know the reason until yesterday when I saw the news," she said.

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