After scandal, China begins vaccine inspections nationwide
- Chinese authorities are implementing a nationwide campaign to inspect vaccine purchasing, distribution and implementation records after the discovery of a black market vaccines ring earlier this year provoked outrage among citizens, Reuters reports.
- In March, police in China uncovered a $90 million black market scheme which involved the illegal purchase and distribution of non-refrigerated vaccines treating meningitis, rabies, polio, mumps, hepatitis B, encephalitis and other illnesses.
- The furor grew to the point that Hong Kong, one of China's two special administration units not affected by the scandal, set a quota on the number of non-resident children vaccinated in the city due to concerns of a potential run on the city's vaccine supplies.
Overseeing the sourcing and distribution of vaccines is a huge challenge in a country of 1.4 billion people and 34 provincial-level administrative units, but over the past months China has moved to limit the effects of the scandal by acting to more strictly enforce regulations.
When the outbreak first broke out in March, the country's Premier Li Keqiang called for better cooperation between internal regulators including the Chinese Food and Drug Administration, warning against a "dereliction of duty," according to an early report from Reuters.
Since then, the country has launched a widespread investigation over the scandal leading to hundreds of arrests and moved to reform its public health system through stricter GMP enforcement and more streamlined drug approvals.
Now, the National Health and Family Planning Commission will oversee all of the vaccine inspections, including random checks. There will be random checks at 20% of hospitals and clinics that provide vaccinations, Reuters said.
The hope is that the inspection will reveal unsafe practices within the vaccine market. Vaccines that are not properly refrigerated, for example, can be completely ineffective in children or can cause the patient to develop toxicity associated with bacterial contamination.