The World Health Organization (WHO) has lauded the Chinese government for its reforms aimed at making the vaccine laws stricter. The news come in the wake of the illegal vaccine scandal that shocked the country.
The agency said in a statement that it welcomed the move of the Chinese authorities to enforce a stricter law dealing with vaccines in the country after the recent expose of illegal vaccine selling activities in Shandong province.
The Chinese government said on Wednesday it had detained 202 people involved in the illegal vaccine scandal, Reuters reported. The case involved sale of illegal vaccines for meningitis, rabies and other diseases that were in the markets of 24 Chinese provinces since 2011. They were all category 2 vaccines, sold on the private market. A Shandong–based pharmacist and her woman were at the heart of the scandal supplying expired vaccines to clinics across country.
"The Shandong event clearly revealed shortcomings in the distribution of Category 2 vaccines – those vaccines bought and sold on the private market," Bernhard Schwartländer, a WHO representative in China, said.
He said the illegal vaccines not only posed a greater health risk to the children but also created mistrust among parents on getting their children vaccinated.
Schwartländer, however, said the new set of proposals announced by the Chinese authorities would ensure the illegal activities aren't repeated and also enable the manufacture of high quality life-saving vaccines.
The WHO said the various proposed changes in the new vaccine law were laudable. Some of the changes include regulating the distribution of private market vaccines, establishing enhanced vaccine tracing system and removing incentives to prevent the sale of illegal vaccines.
The drug regulatory mechanism in China, which is the world's second largest pharmaceuticals market, has come under sharp criticism from its people and health advocacy groups.
The WHO representative, however, said the agency conducted in-depth, independent assessments of China's regulatory mechanism of drugs, which it found as adequate.
He added the proposed changes in law, if implemented well, would ensure that the distribution of vaccines at each step of the process is world class.