China Vaccine Maker Changsheng Plunges Again after Police Launch Probe

26 July, 2018, 04:16 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the China-EU Business Roundtable held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing China Monday

President Xi has ordered a thorough investigation into the company and a recall of any unused vaccines produced by the Changchun Changsheng.

Acting on the leaders' instructions, the State Council has established a task-force and sent an investigation team to the vaccine company.

A child receives a vaccination shot at a hospital in Rongan in China's southern Guangxi region on July 23, 2018.

It is rare for the Chinese president to comment on a domestic issue while overseas, and this reflects the government's urgency to control the damage - especially on the credibility of China's health system - caused by the latest medical scandal.

"Not just the culprits directly responsible for the problematic vaccines, but also those responsible for enabling the sector's misdeeds need to be caught", it added.

Changsheng has been found to have faked production documents related to a rabies vaccine that is given to babies as young as three months, underscoring the difficulties China faces in cleaning up the image of the world's second-biggest drug industry as it aims to promote its vaccines globally.

China is hit regularly by quality-control scandals, fuelling fears over the safety of food and medicines, and anger at regulatory lapses.

In 2013, 17 children died after they were given a hepatitis B vaccine produced by Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co. On July 18, Jilin provincial food and drug administration announced the investigation result into Changchun Changsheng's DTaP vaccine.

Following the outcry, Premier Li Keqiang in a statement on Sunday said the vaccine case has crossed a moral line, and the nation deserves a clear explanation.

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Although the problematic rabies vaccine had not been shipped out, Changsheng admitted to selling 250,000 doses of a vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) to Shandong province previous year.

"We will resolutely crack down on illegal and criminal acts that endanger the safety of peoples' lives, resolutely punish lawbreakers according to the law, and resolutely and severely criticise dereliction of duty in supervision", he said in a statement posted on a government website.

Those probes are in addition to an investigation by the securities regulator, which is looking at whether Changsheng violated information disclosure rules.

Changsheng, which suspended trading in its shares for part of Monday, saw their value drop by 10% on the day. During the same period, the control authorities had investigated the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products for selling 400,520 ineffective vaccines in the Chongqing and Hebei provinces.

A similar scandal erupted in Shandong in 2016, involving the improper storage, transport and sale of tens of millions of dollars' worth of vaccines - many of them expired.

Last week European regulators found that a common blood pressure and heart drug manufactured in bulk by Chinese firm Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical may have contained an impurity linked to cancer since 2012. There did not appear to be reports, however, of people harmed by the vaccine or having contracted rabies after receiving it.

Other Chinese pharmaceutical companies are also now facing intense scrutiny and potential spot inspections, especially after some of them have run into their own high-profile problems.

The state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial late on Monday the case had created a "tsunami" on the internet.

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