Wednesday, 12 December, 2018


China rocked by yet another massive vaccine scandal, outraged parents overwhelm censors

China's leaders have vowed to impose stiff penalties on drug companies who break the law after a large vaccine company was found to have faked its records. Here a child receives a vaccination shot at a hospital in China's southern Guangxi regi China rocked by yet another massive vaccine scandal, outraged parents overwhelm censors
Patty Aguilar | 25 July, 2018, 20:44

The company behind the rabies vaccine, Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology, has faced criticism after the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) revealed that the company had violated good manufacturing practice (GMP).

At the moment the authorities say that the vaccines are only ineffective; it is still unknown if they are harmful to health.

Regulators said last week that they had halted production of a rabies vaccine at a large pharmaceutical company in the northeast after finding fabricated records and other problems during an inspection. "A firm determination should be mustered to improve the country's vaccine management system, and utmost efforts should be made to protect the people's interests, social security and stability", he said.

Years later, nearly half of Chinese food-processing plants still failed to meet internationally acceptable standards, according to a 2015 report.

The company said in a stock exchange filing Sunday that it had already halted production of another vaccine - for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis - which regulators found past year to be sub-standard and which had also become the focus of public attention.

The drug maker further sold the 252,600 faulty vaccines to the Shandong Provincial Disease Prevention and Control Center which were later injected into thousands of children across the country under the mandatory national vaccination program.

"Defective vaccines are like child abuse and trafficking - it touches on the most sensitive, vulnerable part of the public's hearts", wrote Xi Po, a columnist for The Paper, a popular online news outlet backed by the Shanghai government.

It follows an earlier incident, in November 2017, when at least another 400,000 doses of the same vaccine, produced by a different, second company, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, were found to be substandard.

The scandal first emerged a week ago, when it was found that the company's anti-rabies vaccines were faulty and didn't meet immunity standards.

"Amid the current scandal, while netizens are free to condemn the drug company, news articles and social media posts that showed the Chinese government in a critical light continue to be censored", HRW said in a statement.

Also on Monday, police in Changchun, Jilin province, where the company is based, announced that they have arrested four company executives, including Chairwoman Gao Junfang.

Shares in Chinese vaccine makers and biotech firms fell across the board on Monday after the country's Premier Li Keqiang had slammed the vaccine maker for having crossed a moral red line and called for swift action.

The Changsheng case is the latest in a slew of scandals that has plagued China's pharmaceutical industry in recent years. The company expressed its "deepest apology" in a statement. State media battled to take control of the narrative.

For their mistake, Changsheng was fined 3,442,887 yuan ($507,843) by the Chinese government.

Indeed, the current allegations are being likened to the 2008 milk powder scandal, which saw six babies die and 54,000 hospitalised.

The country's official newspaper China Daily has cautioned the Changsheng case could become a public health crisis if not handled "in a reasonable and transparent manner".

This function is also available in other Alibaba-developed applications such as e-commerce platforms Taobao and T-mall and AliHealth.

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