A black-market vaccine ring in China was broken up last week, resulting in more than 130 arrests and dozens of criminal cases filed across the Asian nation, state media reported.
Twenty-nine pharmaceutical companies are suspected of involvement in selling the vaccines, according to Xinhua, the People’s Republic official media agency.
The massive quantity of vaccines – which included voluntary doses to prevent hepatitis, meningitis and rabies – had been improperly stored or had expired. They were sold in 20 provinces since 2011, with most of the conspiracy allegedly centered in Shandong.
The total sale prices was 310 million yuan ($47.6 million U.S.) – although original estimates placed the ill-gotten gains as great as 570 million yuan.
Some 20,000 doses were seized and sealed by authorities – although the majority had already been used, Chinese officials said at a press conference on Thursday.
Although the officials said they have fielded no reports of adverse reactions, they admitted that regulatory frameworks were lacking, Reuters reported. There are simply not enough inspectors, they added.
The entire case has centered on a woman-and-daughter team illegally running the black-market ring. The woman had previously been convicted on a similar peddling crime, but was given a suspended jail sentence.
“During the period of the suspended sentence, this criminal evaded supervision and control and continued to engage in the criminal act of illegally selling vaccines,” said Li Guoqing, head of the country’s drug supervision watchdog agency.
Some 69 criminal cases have been filed against the people in the network, the state added.
As China’s economy surged in the beginning of the 21st century, companies and entrepreneurs were largely attracted to the country’s loose regulations, especially with environmental laws. However, those same regulations have boomeranged on the citizenry, killing scores through tainted food and spreading disease to thousands of others– not to mention the dreadful state of air and water pollution.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery