Leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday pledged greater efforts to ensure vaccine safety following the latest vaccine scandal and vowed to spare no one who dares to put the well-being of citizens in jeopardy.
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting to hear reports on the investigation into the illegal production of rabies vaccines by Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Limited, a case which has caused a sensation nationwide.
The meeting was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. He stressed that those involved in the case should be held accountable and punished severely according to the law.
The vaccine producer only cared about his own profits and defied the law in various ways, the meeting heard. The company was deemed to have fabricated fake production inspection records and seriously violated the national drug standard as well as quality control regulations.
At the same time, local government and regulatory authorities failed to carry out their responsibilities and some staff members clearly neglected their duties.
The meeting proposed three main policy changes:
• Improvement of the law and regulations. Responsibilities should be clearly set out so that enterprises are aware of their duties. Meanwhile, on-site inspections during the production process should be strengthened; a quality and safety system that can trace back to individuals should be established and a product risk reporting system implemented.
• Enhancement of supervision. For vaccine drugs that require strong expertise and carry high risk, it is necessary to clarify the regulatory individuals. On the basis of local territorial management, independent agencies should be sent out to do separate inspections. It's also urgent to have professional teams to monitor vaccine products.
• Harshness of punishment. For those producing companies which are ignorant of the rules and laws and dare to challenge the bottom line of morality and conscience, harsh punishment – lifelong bans from the industry, for example – should be imposed.
The recent scandal involved vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. The latest investigation shows that two batches of the vaccines produced by Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Limited failed to meet legally required standards.
Health authorities say they will continue to revaccinate children who were given the substandard vaccines free of charge.