Hong Kong to review vaccine regs after fake vaccine scam

Hong Kong’s ombudsman Winnie Chiu has launched a probe into the territory’s regulatory framework for vaccines, after a scandal involving counterfeit human papillomavirus (HPV) jabs.

The investigation – which will focus on vaccines provided through private healthcare facilities – has been launched a couple of months after a Hong Kong doctor was jailed for four months after 76 boxes of counterfeit Merck & Co Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine were discovered in his clinic.

Yeung Man-shun was a director at Harmony Medical Care Service, which reportedly had two fridges which they used to keep the counterfeit and real vaccines separately, presumably to select shots for clients depending on how likely they were to question the authenticity of the product.

Other centres were also involved in the scam, according to a statement from the ombudsman’s office. Results of analysis revealed that samples of the seized products contained no active ingredients of an HPV vaccine, and might have been contaminated by microbes.

Chiu says a preliminary inquiry by the office has found that that the emergence of “parallel imported/counterfeit products in 2019 was mainly due to the fact that the demand for nine-valent HPV vaccine far exceeded the limited supply.”

Upon realising the situation, the authorities took follow-up action under the established mechanism and stepped up monitoring measures, according to the statement. The probe aims to determine whether the current monitoring mechanism is effective and identify any areas for improvement.

“Vaccines are pharmaceutical products administered directly into the human body, so it is essential to ensure their quality and safety,” said Chiu.##“To prevent substandard or even counterfeit vaccine products from circulating in the market and posing a threat to public health, the government must properly play the role of gatekeeper,” she added.

The ombudsman is accepting public comments on the investigation until September 21 via

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