China has been rocked by another product safety scandal, this time involving vaccines. There are no reports of people being harmed, but it is a timely reminder of the need for intense scrutiny of supply chains that run through China and for changes in its regulatory culture. There must be greater diligence among regulators and the Chinese government must be far less tolerant toward officials who do not do their jobs.

The most recent crisis began when drugmaker Changsheng Biotechnology Co. was discovered to have forged data related to 113,000 rabies vaccines. The drug regulator in the region where Changsheng is based also disclosed that the company last November sold more than 250,000 substandard diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccines to the Shandong Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which is in charge of public health for that province. While the vaccines did not hurt any recipients, it left them exposed to the diseases.

This is not the only incident involving drug supply and suppliers. The first public case surfaced in 2006 when an estimated 1 million children in Shanxi were given vaccines that had been improperly stored or distributed, resulting in numerous deaths and serious disabilities. A decade later, it was discovered that vaccines had been sold in Shandong Province without official approval. Incredibly, the same individual perpetrated both scandals.