China eyes big penalties over fake vaccines

HONG KONG • China is intensifying its crackdown on makers of ineffective vaccines by introducing heavier penalties and more stringent regulations.

Companies guilty of making or selling counterfeit vaccines can be fined between 15 and 30 times the value of the products involved, China News Service reported, citing the second draft of a new vaccine management law. That compares to a proposed five to 10 times the value of the goods in the first draft in November.

The penalty will be capped at 30 million yuan (RM18.6 million) for goods valued below one million yuan.

China is trying to restore faith in the country’s drug industry after consumers were left feeling outraged and panicked last summer by disclosures about Changsheng Bio-technology Co Ltd and a second company selling ineffective vaccines.

Changsheng was found to have produced and sold low quality vaccines for infants and to have fabricated production and inspection data on a rabies vaccine.

Protesters picketed government offices and worried parents travelled to Hong Kong for foreign-made vaccines. The government later slapped a 9.1 billion yuan penalty on Changsheng.

Under the latest draft, drug firms will bear larger legal responsibilities if they fail to show they have the necessary permits or certificates, or maintain the relevant data records. The draft includes provisions to support the research and development of vaccines. Bloomberg