China's Cabinet vows tough penalties in vaccine scandal case

A logo of vaccine maker Changsheng Bio-technology Co Ltd is seen at its building in Changchun, Jilin, China, on July 23, 2018.
A logo of vaccine maker Changsheng Bio-technology Co Ltd is seen at its building in Changchun, Jilin, China, on July 23, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's Cabinet vowed tough penalties and fines for firms and individuals involved in a vaccine safety scandal that has sparked widespread public anger, according to a notice posted late on Monday (July 30).

China has already ordered the arrest of 18 people at Changsheng Bio-technology Co Ltd, the vaccine-maker at the heart of the scandal, including its chairwoman Gao Junfang.

The firm was found to have falsified data and sold ineffective vaccines. It also fabricated production and inspection records relating to a rabies vaccine used for infants.

A meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday said enterprises and individuals should be severely punished and banned from the pharmaceutical industry for life.

It ordered further investigations to determine the criminal responsibility of other serious offenders involved in the case.

It also called for a full investigation into any potential regulatory failings involved in the case, including possible dereliction of duty by officials.

A special Cabinet investigation team said on Friday that Changsheng had systematically falsified production and testing records to avoid regulatory scrutiny, and had also sold 252,600 doses of ineffective DPT vaccines to inoculate children against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.