Health

Chinese official sentenced 10 years in vaccine scandal

BEIJING: A former official of China’s Food and Drug Administration has been jailed for taking bribes from vaccine manufacturers, reports said Tuesday, in a case with echoes of a major scandal that rocked the Asian country last year.

Yin Hongzhang, the former deputy director of the administration’s drug testing centre, received a 10-year sentence and was fined 500,000 yuan for taking bribes to help vaccine manufacturers gain approval for their drugs, China’s Legal Evening News newspaper said.

His wife and son earlier received prison sentences for participating in the scheme and accepting property and bribes worth 3.56 million yuan ($510,000), including ivory products worth 180,000 yuan, it said.

Yin was taken into custody in April 2015 and charged with taking payouts in relation to four biotech firms’ efforts to obtain government permits for a variety of vaccines, including for SARS and avian flu.

The sentence follows the March revelation of a massive vaccine scandal that enraged the Chinese public.

That case involved the improper storage, transport and sale of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of vaccines — many of them expired.

No one was believed to have been harmed, but the story still provoked outrage in a country where families, who were long limited to one child by government policy, fiercely protect their offspring.

Public fury erupted after a report revealed that information about the case had been suppressed by authorities, who had arrested two key suspects nearly a year earlier.

From 2010, the pair, a mother and daughter from Shandong province in eastern China, sold 25 different kinds of expired or improperly stored vaccines worth more than 570 million yuan ($88 million), the official Xinhua news agency reported at the time.

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