China Fines a Hospital for Administering Potentially Fake Vaccines

(Bloomberg) -- China fined a hospital for administering a potentially fake cervical cancer vaccine, the latest government crackdown after scandals have undermined confidence in the use of locally made vaccines.

Health regulators in the southern Chinese province of Hainan fined Boao Yinfeng Health-Care International Hospital 8,000 yuan ($1,200) on April 18, confiscated 201,496.8 yuan and revoked its license, the state-run China News Service reported, citing a joint statement from authorities including the local drug regulator and public security department. A spokesman for Hainan’s cyberspace regulator confirmed the contents of the statement to Bloomberg.

The hospital wasn’t accredited to administer inoculations, and the vaccines against the human papilloma virus (HPV) -- which causes cervical cancer -- may be fakes, the statement said.

Public confidence in China’s pharmaceutical industry already took a hit last year with revelations that two drugmakers sold poor-quality vaccines for infants, sparking anxiety over the country’s ability to ensure safety in the world’s second-biggest health-care market. Regulators fined one of the companies 9.1 billion yuan and sacked senior government officials for their failure to prevent the scandal.

The country’s top legislature is reviewing a draft of a new vaccine law that will mete out harsh penalties against counterfeits, including a fine up to 30 times the value of the products involved.

Boao Yinfeng Health-Care said in a statement on its website Monday that its former partner Qingdao Meibomen Group administered the vaccine and it doesn’t know where they were sourced. The hospital firm also said police have detained unnamed people at Meibomen. Calls to a mobile phone number listed as the contact for Meibomen on a corporate registry website went unanswered.

The Hainan drug regulator will investigate the HPV vaccines, as an initial probe suggests they came from “irregular channels” and could be counterfeit, China News Service reported. Regulators vowed the highest penalties and criminal charges if the vaccines prove to be fake.

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