Fake rabies vaccine ring jailed over boy's death

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 December, 2010, 12:00am

A Guangxi man who sold a fake rabies vaccine that led to the death of a five-year-old boy last year has been jailed for two and a half years by a Laibin city court.

The Laibin Intermediate People's Court also sentenced seven others to serve one year in jail and fined them up to 30,000 yuan (HK$35,000) each for their involvement in the case, Xinhua reported. The group paid a combined 160,000 yuan in compensation to the boy's family.

The court also partially blamed the boy's parents for his death, because they were slow to seek medical treatment for him, Xinhua said.

The boy died of rabies-induced respiratory failure in December 2009, 51 days after he was bitten by a rabid dog and given the first of six shots of the fake vaccine at a village clinic.

Police and health authorities investigated the case in the first half of the year but the scandal only came to public attention in September when a media report and a subsequent public outcry prompted Laibin health authorities to speak out.

According to media reports, drug inspection authorities tested an unused shot that the boy's father had kept after the child's death and found that it was not rabies vaccine.

The company identified on the packaging as the manufacturer denied making or distributing their products in Guangxi.

The clinic was one of five that had bought more than 530 of the shots for 160 yuan each from an executive of a licensed pharmaceutical supplier between August and December last year. The executive sold them without his company's knowledge to personal contacts in the clinics.

Most of the shots were water. Rabies vaccine was in short supply at the time and the unsuspecting clinic staff were keen to buy the doses.

Investigators traced the sale of the shots back through half a dozen transactions to Zhang Dazhi , who had bought them for 10 yuan and resold them after forging the necessary approval papers for the injections. The shots had already changed hands twice by the time they were sold to Zhang, the court was told.

Zhang was arrested along with seven other people - one from Guangdong and six from Guangxi - for making the counterfeits. Another man wanted in the case is still on the run. A police raid on the Guangxi home of the Guangdong suspect uncovered a drug-manufacturing den, with officers seizing drug components, fake company chops and a machine to seal doses.

Guangxi health authorities later found that 1,656 people had received the problematic shots and several had died of unrelated causes.