A Chinese vaccine manufacturer that released hundreds of thousands of batches of faulty vaccines, including a number intended for use on children, has been fined $1.32 billion by the government.
News surrounding the defective vaccines had sparked outrage in China earlier this year, including rare public protests outside government buildings, as parents asked how they could trust authorities to protect Chinese children.
Chinese state media said Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology had been fined for creating at least 100,000 defective rabies vaccines, which authorities have insisted were only ineffective, not dangerous.
“Violations included blending different batches of vaccine fluid, falsifying dates of production and using expired fluid to produce some of the batches,” state media Xinhua said Tuesday.
The defective rabies vaccine was one of two major controversies to hit the vaccine company within the past year.
About 250,000 diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccines for children, also produced by Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology, were found to be faulty by Chinese investigators in November.
The number doubled in August when state media announced a second batch had been found to be defective, bringing the total to at least 500,000
The recent fine comes in addition to a $507,843 penalty slapped on the company by the Chinese government in July for their original batch of defective children’s vaccines.
There was no mention in state media of the additional faulty drugs, including whether there could be further fines to come.
The vaccine scandal only compounded previous concerns in China about the safety of the locally-produced food and medicine, coming off the back of a series of high-profile controversies in the past decade.
In July and August, more than a dozen angry parents and activists gathered in front of the National Health Commission and the National State Drug Administration, asking the government to “give vaccine victims a fair chance.”
The Chinese government has come down hard against the company and food and drug officials in the wake of the scandal.
In a rare response to public pressure, President Xi Jinping pledged quick action following the backlash, including an immediate investigation.
At least 18 people were arrested by police following the scandal and Xinhua said Wednesday the company had revoked the company’s pharmaceutical production license.