Chinese premier orders investigation of vaccine makers

23 Juillet, 2018, 15:53 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Chinese premier calls for severe punishment in vaccine scandal

Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang tried to reassure outraged citizens Monday after one of country's largest vaccine manufacturers was found to have falsified records and distributed 250,000 faulty vaccines for children, in the latest scandal over suspect medication to hit the country.

Following an investigation, Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology Ltd. was found to have falsified reports regarding the production and inspection of some 113,000 rabies vaccines, according to the South China Morning Post.

The case has gone viral in China, where sensitivity over food and drug safety is extremely high after a series of scandals over the last decade.

"All my friends are freaking out with this vaccine case, everyone is scared. What will it be tomorrow?" another wrote, referring to a major scandal in 2008 when several infants died after industrial chemical melamine was added to milk powder to raise protein levels.

According to the China Food and Drug Administration, Changsheng fabricated production records as well as product inspection records, and arbitrarily changed process parameters and equipment, in "serious violations" of the law.

In a stock exchange statement on Sunday, the company said its suspension of rabies vaccine production would have a significant impact on its finances and that some regional disease control agencies had suspended some of its other vaccines.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang looks at a letter given by Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during a meeting with Malaysia's new government advisor Daim Zainuddin at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, July 18, 2018. Changsheng's shares, which have lost 40 percent since mid-July, were suspended Monday. Last year, it sold 252,600 substandard DPT vaccines to inoculate children against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, a regulator in the northeastern Jilin said on Friday. The wider CSI 300 healthcare index was down about 5 percent.

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Another company Wuhan Institute of Biological Products was also implicated in the DPT vaccine issue.

China's pharmaceutical industry has been plagued with such scandals, with another company Wuhan Institute of Biological Products also being implicated in the DPT vaccine issue past year and the police busting a gang for selling around $90 million worth of illegal vaccines on the black market in 2016.

State media have said Changsheng made a public apology and recalled all their rabies vaccine available on the market.

"The recent fake vaccine scandal has really made me very scared", she said, adding she wanted clear information from authorities, rather than people with little knowledge or expertise stirring up parents' emotional concerns.

An editorial on Monday in the China Daily warned that the case could become a public health crisis if it is not handled "in a reasonable and transparent manner".

"The government needs to act as soon as possible to let the public know it is resolved to address the issue and will punish any wrongdoers without mercy", it said.

Late on Sunday, state news agency Xinhua ran an editorial calling for strict punishment for any violations, big or small, in the vaccine industry and for regulators to close loopholes and tighten oversight of the industry.

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