October 20/World Markets Research Limited -- The FDA will set up its first inspection office in Beijing, China, by the end of this year to tighten the safety and quality control of imported drugs and food, AP reports. Two more offices will then be established in Shanghai and Guangzhou following the opening of the Beijing office. The FDA will also open more overseas offices in India, Latin America and the Middle East. The initial cost will be some $30 million. The staff will consist of both FDA inspectors and outsourced local inspectors.

Significance: Southern Medicine Economic Research Institute (SMERI) has recently predicted that the Chinese pharmaceutical industry's output will reach over $146 billion in 2009 with the export growth rate likely to reach 25%. The U.S. will remain the top destination of the Chinese manufacturers. However, a series of recent food and drug scandals in China has cast doubt on both Chinese manufacturers' reputations and the FDA's inspection standards. The plan to open new offices will help the FDA to tighten its safety and quality control and to apply its standard of quality to the early stages of production. For the manufacturers, it will reduce the time they need to export to the U.S. market. However, the FDA still needs congress approval to use inspectors outside the organization. This will also pose a new challenge as to how to make sure the outsourcing inspectors strictly abide by FDA inspection standards.

From the October 27, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash