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Chinese premier vows crackdown in latest pharma scare

25 July 2018

The firm also sold 252,600 doses of ineffective DPT vaccines to inoculate children against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.

Censors and regulators struggled to stay abreast of the public's response to the latest scandal, deleting posts on WeChat over the weekend which alleged corruption in the industry.

President Xi Jinping, on a trip to Africa, has responded forcefully to the latest scandal involving a major mainland pharmaceutical company, which led to sub-standard vaccines being given to children.

The problems have rekindled already deep fears over domestically made medicines and driven anxious parents online to swap information on obtaining imported vaccines.

The government has gone into damage control, with the CFDA saying there was "absolutely no need" for foreign vaccines because China already has a "comprehensive" system for ensuring quality.

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 added that some regional disease control agencies had temporarily suspended vaccines.

The company's licence was revoked and the vaccine recalled.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has vowed stern action over the scandal as drug stocks tumbled on Monday.

In a note published on the website of the government said: "We will pursue criminal and illegal acts that endanger the safety of people's lives, punish the transgressors and those who have failed in their duties in supervision". The company expressed its "deepest apology" in a statement.

Authorities in Hebei announced separately on Monday that almost 150,000 people in the northern province received a sub-standard diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine made by another firm, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

The company has been fined 3,442,887 yuan (£386,090) in total by the Chinese government. Other vaccine makers also continued to slump, with Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co. losing 10 per cent, while Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co. slipped 4.2 per cent.

The CFDA said it will begin unscheduled inspections at all vaccine manufacturers in China while it looks into violations at Changchun Changsheng.

It was just the latest in a series of health and safety scandals which have fuelled fear over the safety of basic food and medicine and anger at regulators asleep on the job.

Hebei said it has launched steps to administer new vaccines to those affected.

Changsheng's Shenzhen-listed shares plunged by their daily limit of 10 percent on Tuesday, extending falls that have seen it lose US$1.8 billion (1.4 billion pounds) or more than half their value since mid-July. Immunoprophylaxis concerns diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (Dpt).

China has been working to restore confidence in its food and drug industries, both at home and overseas, after a series of scandals over the last decade over shoddy and tainted products, the most notorious in 2008, when 300,000 children were sickened when they were given milk powder contaminated with the chemical melamine.

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.

'People do not understand why the country had not prevented a substandard vaccine from being produced in the first place, ' it said, suggesting it may be due to 'lax supervision and light punishment'.

Chinese premier vows crackdown in latest pharma scare