Chinese president calls latest pharma scare 'vile'

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President Xi Jinping has ordered an investigation - and promised serious punishment - after a drug company was found to have faked production records for a rabies vaccine and sold more than 250,000 doses of a vaccine for infants that didn't meet medical standards.

At the moment the authorities say that the vaccines are only ineffective; it is still unknown if they are harmful to health.

The Jilin provincial food and drug supervision authority has revoked Changchun Changsheng's drug GMP certificate for rabies vaccines, halted their production and sale, and suspended the approval of the company's all sorts of products.

The scandal has shaken public trust in the government and sparked fierce criticism online across the country.

According to the CFDA, there is no evidence that anyone has been harmed by the vaccine.

On 15 July, China's State Drug Administration (SDA) announced that Changchun Changsheng had falsified production data during the production of its freeze-dried human rabies vaccine.

Chinese leaders are scrambling to shore up public confidence and oversight of the pharmaceutical industry after a rabies vaccine maker was found faking records, the latest in a slew of public health and safety scandals that have outraged Chinese parents. "People's Daily released a commentary on July 22 saying that drug-makers should stick to moral principles and make life their priority rather than profits", news agency Reuters said in a report.

Marina Cui - a 25-year-old mother from the southwestern Yunnan province whose five-month-old child took a DPT vaccine last week - said the latest revelations had made her anxious about the overall safety of vaccines.

It follows an earlier incident, in November 2017, when at least another 400,000 doses of the same vaccine, produced by a different, second company, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, were found to be substandard.

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But it exploded on social media over the weekend, fuelled by a viral essay alleging decades of malfeasance by the company including the bribery of officials to allow low-quality products onto the market.

Officials have since launched an investigation into the company. Despite not meeting standards, the medicine was sold to the Shandong Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A vaccine scandal in China, which has prompted angry reactions from citizens fed up with safety scares, is sending ripples across the local drug market and threatening Chinese ambitions to play a larger role in the global pharmaceutical space.

"We will resolutely crack down on illegal and criminal acts that endanger the safety of peoples' lives, resolutely punish lawbreakers according to the law, and resolutely and severely criticise dereliction of duty in supervision", Li said in a statement posted on the government's website. An apology has been issued by the company, but that will not so easily turn around the fall in its share price.

Yet another massive vaccine scandal has rocked China this past week with tens of thousands of parents taking to social media to voice their renewed fears over their children's safety in a country that is becoming tired of these kinds of public safety crises.

The authorities condemned the Changsheng Biotech to pay 3.4 million yuan ($ 502,200). "How am I supposed to raise a healthy child if I can not give them vaccines or let them drink milk?" writes another netizen.

The scandals have cast an ugly blight on China's public vaccination system, which has previously been credited with cutting the number of polio, hepatitis B and tetanus cases.

The FDA said the problem was linked to a change in the manufacturing process in China - and that the impurity may have gone undetected for "as long as four years".

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