Chinese vaccine firm punished for rabies vaccine scandal

A rabies vaccine scandal in China has resulted in €1.1 billion in penalties for a pharmaceuticals firm. Officials say its product did not enter the market, but the case fueled consumer outrage over faulty goods.

China's National Drug Administration (CNDA) said Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology, a firm based in northeast Jilin province, had been penalized €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) via a fine and asset seizures.

The firm's chairwoman and 14 other people were arrested in July after inconsistencies were found in the company's production and inspection records.

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Disclosures, including the alleged failure of authorities to act immediately after finding inconsistencies, triggered a public outcry in the wake of other scandals over fake or shoddy medicines, milk and toys.

Production of the vaccine for rabies, which is endemic in parts of China, was stopped and licenses were withdrawn. More than a dozen national, provincial and local officials were sacked.

Run on alternative stocks

Clinics in Hong Kong saw a run on their vaccine stocks by worried parents from the mainland. Premier Li Keqiang accused the firm of violating a "moral bottom line."

In Tuesday's announcement, the CNDA accused the company of destroying records to conceal its misconduct as well as using expired ingredients, mixing different batches and failing to test them properly.

The penalty amount included the forfeiture of revenue from potential sales, the CNDA said. It gave no indication on the status of possible criminal prosecutions.

ipj/aw (AP, AFP)

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