China is pushing ambitious healthcare reforms to improve its
home-made medicines, but the vaccine scandal underscores the
challenge facing the world's second-largest drug market in
regulating its fragmented supply chain.
The new rules, signed by Premier Li Keqiang and adopted on Saturday,
toughen requirements for distribution of non-compulsory vaccines,
the official Xinhua news agency said.
They require county health officials to get the vaccines directly
from manufacturers before sending them to hospitals, instead of
going through wholesalers, it added.
Hospitals, clinics and government health authorities must also keep
better records of purchases and inventory, with regular monitoring
of vaccine temperatures, records of which hospitals must request
upon receiving the vaccines.
The rules hike fines for improper handling of vaccines, and
prescribe the sacking of government officials guilty of violations,
The government plans to set up an electronic vaccine tracking
system, it added, but gave no details.
Chinese authorities punished hundreds of officials in the aftermath
of the vaccine scandal, which involved millions of illegal trades of
vaccines through a blackmarket drugs ring, and ignited public anger.
The vaccines, including ones against meningitis, rabies and other
illnesses, are suspected of being sold around China since 2011. They
were all "category 2" vaccines, meaning they were sold on the
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China's drug regulator said on its website on Monday that it has
passed the cases of two firms, Hebei Shanggu Shengwu Technology and
Shaanxi Bangxin Shengwu, to the police after suspecting them of
It has also revoked the licenses of two other companies and plans to
cancel the licenses of 41 more, the China Food and Drug
Administration said, adding that all 45 firms were selling vaccines
to non-qualified units and fabricating vaccine sales records.
Hebei Shanggu Shengwu Technology and Shaanxi Bangxin Shengwu did not
answer Reuters' calls for comment.
(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh
in SHANGHAI; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Muralikumar
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