Medicine

Chinese premier vows crackdown in latest pharma scare

Chinese premier vows crackdown in latest pharma scare

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday ordered a thorough investigation into the illegal vaccine production scandal that has swept across China, as well as serious punishments for those found responsible.

Vials containing the vaccine for rabies are seen as a local market supervisory authority official conducts a check at a hospital in Rongan in China's southern Guangxi.

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. Millions of angry users shared the essay and other information on product-safety problems in a rare public airing of a touchy national issue.

Following Xi's instructions, the government of Jilin Province, which has been criticised throughout the scandal for its weak supervision, poor regulation and political inaction, vowed today to help the investigation and give the people an explanation.

Regulators found that the company had fabricated production records and product inspection records, arbitrarily changed process parameters and equipment during its production of freeze-dried human rabies vaccines, according to the report.

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. The revelations come as the 10th anniversary approaches of the melamine milk powder scandal, which led to the deaths of six babies. The Jilin Food and Drug Administration revealed on its website that the second-largest drug manufacturer in China provided defective vaccines for newborns.

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

In the statement Sunday, Li promised to "resolutely crack down" on violations that endanger public safety.

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As parents rushed to find out if their children had been exposed to Changchun Changsheng's vaccines, regulators struggled to contain the damage.

A woman receives a vaccination shot against rabies at the Disease Control and Prevention Center in Huaibei in China's eastern Anhui province on Tuesday. They have lost 40 per cent of their value since July 13.

The wider CSI 300 healthcare index was down about 5 percent.

In 2016, Chinese police busted a gang for selling around $90 million worth of illegal vaccines on the black market.

Anxious parents have been trying to ascertain if their children have been given real vaccines.

There has been no evidence of harm from the vaccine, but the scandal has sparked a huge outcry in China.

The China Daily warned earlier in an editorial that the latest Changsheng 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. "Once a darling of Chinese fund managers, Changsheng Bio-tech has lost almost half of its share value since the State Drug Administration uncovered its data forgery in an unannounced inspection a week ago, and is now in danger of being delisted", the newspaper reported.