Asia Pacific / Science & Health

China to prosecute suspects at scandal-hit vaccine maker, confiscate illegal income

Reuters

Chinese authorities will prosecute all suspects in a safety scandal at vaccine maker Changsheng Biotechnology and confiscate its illegal earnings, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Thursday.

The company was accused in July of falsifying data for a rabies vaccine and manufacturing an ineffective vaccine for babies, sparking a safety scandal that has stoked widespread public anger.

While there were no known reports of people being harmed by the vaccines, regulators ordered Changsheng to halt their production and recall the rabies vaccine. Changsheng apologized in a regulatory filing.

CCTV reported on Thursday that the cabinet said police had concluded an investigation into Changsheng.

More than 40 government officials, including seven at the provincial level, had been held accountable for the scandal, according to a report from the official China Daily on Friday.

A number of senior provincial officials had been removed from their posts, according to a report from Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

Guo Hongzhi, a senior official at the Jilin branch of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), and Bai Xugui, a senior member of the Jilin branch of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, were removed from their posts, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday. Bai oversaw drug supervision as deputy mayor of Jilin between 2016 and 2018.

Zeng Xiangdong and Yan Haijiang, both deputy directors at the Jilin branch of the CFDA, were also removed from their posts, according to Xinhua.

Four Changchun city CFDA officials were also removed, Xinhua said, among a number of others.

Changsheng Biotechnology did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment.

CCTV said a separate meeting of the elite seven-man Politburo Standing Committee chaired by President Xi Jinping on Thursday had found the scandal revealed serious “dereliction of duties” and exposed loopholes in the regulatory system.

The broadcaster said several government officials had been punished over the scandal.

Changsheng is based in Changchun city in the northeastern province of Jilin. It is China’s second-largest producer of rabies and chickenpox vaccines, the company said in its 2017 annual report.

Xinhua said on Wednesday the company had made nearly 500,000 sub-standard vaccines for children, roughly double an earlier estimate by authorities.