A Hanoi pharmaceutical company has been suspended for selling an illegal feed additive that enhances leanness in pork.
Phuong Dong (Oriental) International Pharmaceutical Company has had its license revoked indefinitely, according to the Drug Administration of Vietnam.
Earlier health inspectors had found the company importing 200kg more of salbutamol, used to treat asthma, than it had registered with the Ministry of Health.
Phuong Dong sold the drug to many companies that then sold it as a leanness-enhancing feed additive, inspectors said.
The inspection was launched following concern over the increasing use of the illegal agent in pig husbandry.
In October Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat sought details from the health ministry about the import of 68 tons of salbutamol, which he said was abnormally high for the pharmaceutical industry.
He also said the illegal trade in the substance should be considered as serious as drug running.
But the health ministry replied that it had only approved the import of 3.5 tons.
Last month inspectors from the agriculture ministry found seven animal feed companies using salbutamol in their products.
The media first reported about the illegal use of additives to reduce fat and increase meat in pigs in 2012.
Popular additives included clenbuterol and salbutamol, which were designed to treat asthma and lung conditions, but only under strict supervision.
International studies have found that excessive salbutamol can leave residues in a pig’s edible tissues, including its liver and kidney, which cannot be removed by cooking.
When consumed, it can cause a rapid heart rate, dizziness, headache, anxiety, tremors, and blood pressure, especially in those with heart diseases and hypertension.