China’s Illegal Vaccines Scandal Biggest Since 2008

China’s Illegal Vaccines Scandal Biggest Since 2008
Syringe and Vaccine NIAID / FlickrCC BY 2.0

After a Chinese mother-and-a-daughter tandem has been arrested for illegally selling questionable medicines, the local drug regulatory bureau is running after $88-million worth of vaccines that have been sold in China’s black market.


This is after the China Food and Drug Administration, upon its initial investigation, has found that the questionable vaccines have been stored and transported in an unapproved condition. Although the vaccines in questions were manufactured by registered pharmaceutical companies, the poor storage and transport practices can have a major effect on the quality and safety of the medicines, the report notes. If transported below the recommended storage temperature, the vaccines can even be deadly, it adds.

According to a state-run news agency Xinghua, the CFDA has already alerted its 300 local branches in 12 provinces where the questionable vaccines have been distributed. The medicines include vaccines for deadly diseases such as hepatitis B, meningitis, mumps, polio, and rabies. This has been the biggest health scandal in China since 2008.

The report adds that the suspects, who were only identified by their surname, Pang, allegedly stored and transported the medicines without appropriate refrigeration and without proper spoilage control measures.

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The older Pang, who was later identified as a doctor, has been in the vaccine business since 2010, but it was only sometime in 2014 that the local authorities found probable indications of the illegal and anomalous trade. In April 2015, the mother and her daughter were arrested by the local police after a series of investigation.

However, it took nearly a year before the Chinese authorities made the issue public. This, according to a report from the BBC News, angered many Chinese citizens who have bought the questionable vaccines. A boy reportedly died days after receiving polio and meningococcal vaccines.

But health authorities in China’s Guangdong province were quick to dismiss reports linking the deaths of children to the recent medicine scandal in China. The report notes that investigations are underway and it’s too early to come up with such associations.

“If the exact cause is still being probed, how can you already say that it has nothing to do with the problematic vaccines? You’re tying yourself up in knots,” posted an angry user of China-based social media Sina Weibo as quoted by the BBC News.

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