Massive illegal vaccine network exposed in China

Chinese flagA criminal operation that has been supplying illegal and dangerous vaccines and biologics in China has been uncovered by the authorities.

The gang is said to have supplied substandard and unregistered products to 18 provinces across China since 2011, according to the Xinhua news agency, which said the activity was discovered by the Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) unit in Shandong province.

The ring - reportedly run by a mother and daughter - are accused of distributing 12 vaccines, two immune globulin products and one biologic drug in quantities valued at an eye-watering $88m over the last five years. If convicted they face at least five years in prison.

At the moment it is thought that the pharmaceuticals were produced by legitimate manufacturers but may have included expired products and were not stored and transported in appropriate conditions. Rabies, flu and hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccines are said to be among the products distributed by the pair.

The CFDA is now putting pressure on local official and companies manufacturing and distributing the products to come forward and help them establish how their products came to be diverted from legal distribution channels, according to an agency press release (in Chinese).

The agency issued a notice about the case over the weekend but reportedly was aware of the illegal operation since April 2015, which has caused anger amongst the Chinese public.

The government has been roundly criticised for not doing enough to track down the products which - by the CFDA's own admission - could cause disability or even death.

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