China disciplines 80 officials linked to major vaccine scandal

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China’s corruption watchdog on Saturday (Feb 2) said it has disciplined more than 80 officials linked to a major vaccine scandal last summer that inflamed public fears over the safety of domestically produced drugs.

Six mid-senior level officials were either dismissed from office, ordered to resign, and suggested to resign. 42 officials were severely punished and another 29 people were given other penalties.

Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology – a major Chinese manufacturer of rabies vaccines – was slapped with a US$1.3 billion (S$1.76 billion) fine last October after it was found to have fabricated records.

Four officials from the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), including a deputy director, have been handed over to prosecutors, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement on Saturday.

The brief statement did not say what they were alleged to have done.

The graft watchdog also said it would “seriously deal with” more than 80 other provincial or local officials from multiple government organisations, without offering details.

These officials have already been fired or demoted, it said.

Authorities earlier said the faulty rabies vaccines did not enter the market. But the case provoked outrage from customers fed up with recurring product-safety scandals, particularly in the drug sector.

The drug company’s chairwoman and 14 employees were arrested after the scandal came to light last July, while more than a dozen national, provincial and local officials were sacked.

In a latest scandal, according to South China Morning Post, two public health officials in northern China have been sacked and a third detained in the latest vaccine scandal to hit the country, this time involving as many as 18 children possibly being given the wrong injections.

Gu Wenjun, head of a state-run centre for disease control and prevention in the Qiaoxi district of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, and Huang Huiran, director of the centre’s immunisation programme, were fired after a woman reported to the police that her child had been given an HIB vaccine instead of a pentavalent one, Xinhua reported.

A separate report by Beijing Times quoted parents as saying that although the clinic’s records stated that 44 children were given pentavalent vaccines, other documents showed it had only 26 doses available.

On that basis, as many as 18 children might have been given the wrong injections, the report said.

The incident in Qiaoxi is another knock to the public’s confidence in China’s health care system after a slew of scandals last year.

By staff editor
Source: Straits times, SCMP.

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