Chinese official linked to companies in two vaccine scandals: report

Report claims Hebei disease control cadre had ties to companies implicated in nationwide scare and one in Shanxi six years ago

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 March, 2016, 9:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 3:44pm

A former executive of a Hebei pharmaceutical company caught up in the country’s vaccine scandal was a major stakeholder in another firm at the centre of a similar case six years ago in which about 100 children died or weredisabled, mainland media reported on Thursday.

The revelation came as the authorities said the number of people detained over the scandal had risen to more than 130, from 29 companies and 16 vaccination centres.

China Business News reported that Hebei Weifang Biological Products Supply Centre, a state-run firm linked to the provincial centre for disease control and prevention, was part of the network that distributed 570 million yuan (HK$679 million) worth of improperly stored or transported vaccines across 24 provinces.

Until January, the company’s legal representative was Zhao Baogang. Zhao was also the director of the Hebei CDC’s biological products supply management department, the report said.

Zhao had worked with another Hebei CDC employee, Cao Xiufen, to publish several academic papers on topics including vaccine industry management, the report said.

In 2010, the duo became major shareholders ofBeijing Huaxia Dezhong Biological Technology, which had been a delivery service for all vaccines in Shanxi since 2005.

Vaccine scandal: China detains 37 suspects as senior official admits to problems in drug system

But the company made headlines in 2010 when it was linked to a vaccine scare in which nearly 100 children in the province died or became seriously disabled after having injections.

According to China Business News, Huaxia allegedly stored and transported vaccines at high temperatures, but survived the scandal and is still in operation.

Officials sought on Thursday to allay public fury over the authorities’ delay in publicising the most recent case.

It only came to light this month even though the two key suspects, a mother and daughter from Shandong province, were arrested in April 2015.

Three Shandong-based pharmaceutical firms implicated in the scandal have had their business licences revoked in the aftermath of the investigation.

Drug safety officials have also tried to ease parents’ concerns over the safety and effectiveness of vaccines used on the mainland.

Li Guoqing, director of the China Food and Drug Administration’s drug and cosmetics supervision department, said the mainland’s vaccine monitoring system was generally on par with standards in developed countries.

Li said there was no need to panic and the scandal should not deter people from having ­vaccinations.

The case is the biggest health and safety scandal to emerge on the mainland since 2008, when 300,000 children fell ill from drinking milk formula contaminated with melamine. Six of the children died.